Hardships make us grow in compassion.
When we experience difficult times, we come out of them with greater compassion for others.
I was raised in a home where we didn’t take our life for granted.
Family in Lebanon were living underground due to war. We would exchange videos via VHS and I would watch in awe at how happy everyone was despite such challenging living conditions.
I would talk to cousins, uncles and aunties whom I had never met before.
But there was a sense of knowing who they were. My parents instilled in me and my siblings the importance of showing love for our family even though all we knew of them were their names.
I never understood it then; why my parents enforced this kinship.
But now as the years pass me, I realise how profound this was.
Building strong connection with family is our lifeline.
Protecting each other was all they had and all they knew.
Living a daily life based on survival instincts made them stronger as a family and relationships were more important than material possessions.
In modern times, we have more than we need or can accommodate for.
We build bigger houses to put more things in.
We hire storage spaces just to store more stuff that we don’t use or need.
We shop, shop and shop to try and satiate the craving within us for connection.
Connection to love.
If all we have is within us, then why do we seek it outside ourselves?
When we look around our home, do we think “wow look at all that I have. I have far too much!”
Or do we have a sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are?
We desire more because we don’t feel satisfied with the present reality. So we think we need something else to fill us up.
We continue to try and fill a void that no material object will ever fulfill.
My parents grew up in Lebanon before migrating to Australia.
They lived each day with unspoken gratitude. Gratitude to be alive.
They were grateful for every meal on their plate, no matter how simple.
My mum shared one bed between her other 4 siblings and the bedroom was the living room and the kitchen. It was one room. That was their life as children. They had few possessions.
But damn did they love each other.
My dad lost his mother at a young age and so early in life he and his older brother assumed responsibility for their younger siblings to help provide food and shelter to them.
Siblings were closer than they ever – seeking to protect, love and look out for the other.
No material possessions can buy this.
Perhaps that’s why my parents are so compassionate. My parents were always the first to give and still are.
If they saw a random person on the street who appeared in need of help, they would help them.
This is the kind of generosity I grew up seeing in my household.
The generosity and compassion my parents have, comes from a heart that has seen and lived difficult times.
They know what it’s like to live on very little. What it’s like to have almost nothing except cling to life itself.
Knowing what my parents went through makes me appreciate my life and all the things that I can so easily take for granted.
Compassion means to “feel with” and it’s so easy to feel with someone else’s hardship when you have experienced hardship yourself.
It is a gift growing older, as we have the privilege and opportunity to grow in compassionate wisdom.