The words of the Apostle Paul were quite revolutionary in his ancient time. To say something like it at a level of unified humanity embedded in a culture deeply rooted in hierarchy was undoubtedly met with opposition. Hatred to be exact, from religious people, imagine that. Paul was sent to prison because of his teaching. This right here though is the essence of shared common humanity. It has always been met with resistance toward the ones who embrace it. But as Paul states, this is the truth in Christ Jesus.
Shared common humanity. Is it any wonder an acute awareness of this truth is a key element of compassion for self and others? It produces good fruit.
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (Matthew 7:16-19)
I participated in a course this week on mindfulness and compassion. My faith in Christ resonated as one of my key insights toward self compassion and shared common humanity. If something is damaging those fruits it is not Christ like.
Have you ever been asked to gaze at another person for a certain length of time and just notice the humaneness you share? They say the eyes are the window to the soul, this is not a natural thing to do most of the time. Especially when you aren't tapping in to this kind of oneness of humanity. There is so much about our culture that teaches us not to do this but this right here is Christ like. Instead we make eye contact but don't gaze further, move along. But when it is natural, that is good fruit.
Okay, so back to the exercise, we had to hold this gaze with another classmate. This was completely awkward for the first part of the experience. I felt rude for staring at them and my reaction was to look away and then look back, away and so forth. The first thirty seconds I didn't think I could do it. As for my eyes being gazed at, equally awkward. However, I reminded myself that my complete self was showing up for this class so I didn't back down. About half way in to this exercise I felt something settle in me and I no longer felt the need to look away. I felt grounded and it felt natural. We all have the need to feel connected at this level, to feel safe, to feel loved. Likewise, we have all hurt and struggled with life. We all have hopes and dreams, pasts and futures.
When this is natural, it is shared common humanity. Which is also one of three important elements of compassion. The other is mindfulness. Resistance, doubt, fear and cultural hierarchy are the biggest interferences to compassion.
Only after our exercise did we introduce ourselves which was crazy! Another classmate mentioned it reminded her of some of her favorite authors, Brene Brown and Anne Lamott. What! Me too! Well duh, this was/is my school after all. Yes! Dang, these are my peoples peeps.
Super helpful assessment tool on this:
Research points to stronger links to well being, motivation, healthier physical behaviors, higher coping levels or resilience and elevated concern for others. If that isn't believable, a research study conducted shows women who received self-compassion influences ate 28 grams of candy over 70 grams from the women who went without.
Ladies, I'm not suggesting we are ever going to stop eating candy…they were Skittles after all. Mindfulness isn't always easy, perhaps even feels a little indulgent. But as the study shows, hips or lips, our choice.
The professor of the course was a school psychologist for thirty years. Thank you Jesus…not timely at all or anything.
Blessed to be back home. ❤️
Loved By Grace,