Painful Pity

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 at 8:38 pm

I needed to talk to my professor about some papers–but I knew I couldn’t do it while other students were in the room. So I waited patiently until the last student left.

And then came the moment I’d been afraid of.

“Rebekah, how are you?” he said in that tone that says he actually cares, that he’d be willing to hear the whole story if I wanted to share it.

Just as I suspected, my eyes filled with tears and I could only take a deep breath and shrug, silently cursing myself for letting him see my weakness.

It’s been a hard semester. Probably the hardest of my life.

I’ve worked hard to not let it show–to not let my personal life infringe on my work and school life. If that meant spending long hours at home working on something that previously took me minutes, that’s what I’d do. If it meant crying out all of my tears in the evening so none could be left for work hours, that’s what I did. If it meant avoiding people in “normal life” so that I could be “on” for the hours that I had to be teaching or in meetings, so be it.

I think I was pretty successful. If any of my classmates (except Chante, the classmate who’s also a friend) or my supervisors or my teachers noticed, they didn’t let on. Except for Dr. Newman.

Dr. Newman saw through my disguise and had compassion.

And I hate it. I hate it that he has compassion on the weakness I cannot have compassion on.

“Don’t be nice to me!” I want to shout. “Don’t allow me this weakness! I shouldn’t be weak. I can’t be weak. Despise me, hate me, be harsh with me–anything but kindness is welcome.”

I don’t want to accept my weakness–and it galls me that he accepts it when I will not.

Why is being shown compassion so painful?

Reader Comments (1):

  1. Casandra says:

    First of all, I think compassion and pity are totally different. :)

    I think compassion is hard to take because we aren’t used to it. Especially from people with whom we don’t have a close relationship established.
    I think compassion is painful because we spend so much time building up the resistance to anger and disappointment that we leave ourselves totally exposed, when we don’t get that reaction and instead experience love and concern.
    I think compassion is painful because, like you said, we can’t have compassion on ourselves so we feel angry when others do.
    I think it is normal is experience these feelings anytime we get a reaction we don’t think we deserve.

    I remember one time having a conversation with someone, about “how can God forgive me when I can’t even forgive myself” and we talked about how that is really a twisted form of pride, thinking that we are better than God – that we couldn’t forgive something He has already forgiven.

    Also, 1 Corinthians 12:10 reminds us, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

    I know it goes against what you feel, but allow yourself to be weak and let Jesus be your strength. In order to experience victory we sometimes have to experience defeat(and every time, surrender).

    (my comment was almost as long as your post, sorry!)

    I leave you with a song:
    Jesus loves you
    this I know
    for the Bible tells me so.
    You and I to Him belong.
    You may be weak, but HE is strong.

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