Week 1: Compassion

Hey, Compassion Collective! This is Week One—my first vlog.

Let’s start with something, I don’t know, compassionate! Let’s focus this week on compassion. Let me read to you what the actual definition is without my glasses, which is going to be a challenge.

Compassion = a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.  A few synonyms here: mercy, commiseration, tenderness, heart, clemency,

With that being said, let’s think about living our lives with compassion today. Let me remind you, every single one of us is struggling with something: addiction, marriage issues, sickness in the family. Someone has a dog they have to put down, or their children are acting out—or one of their children is contemplating suicide.

There are shootings, there are natural disasters, there are mental disorders. There are so many things that people are dealing with in their own personal lives that you may not know. The grocery man, the coffee guy, the person frustrating you by leaving their grocery cart in the middle of the aisle might be going through something pretty severe.

That car that just cut you off on the highway could be going to the hospital or has a pregnant wife in the back seat going into labor, whom you can’t see because she’s crouched down in such pain. Let’s start today to look at everybody through the eyes of compassion—that we know they’re going through something. So let’s be there to shower our love, and not because we expect to be rewarded for it. I thought I was compassionate, guys. I really did. I’m a caring, loving person. But I have a story to tell you.

I go to the same coffee shop all the time, and on a typical day, I’m ordering my coffee and this person is back there, and she’s the same grouchy, grumpy person that she always is. And I keep saying to myself, “Well, come on! If you don’t like this job or you don’t want to be serving with a smile, then get the heck out of the role that you’re in, and go find something else, because clearly, this is not for you.”

So, today I just decided, “You know what? I’m not going to say, ‘Good morning’ and flash a smile, and go about my day getting nothing in return. Screw that! I’m going to go ahead and just get my coffee and go put my creamer in it, and get on out of here.” So that’s what I did. I paid, I went over, I went to the creamer section, got my stuff ready, and lo and behold—and this scared the living daylights out of me—she came up behind me and said, “Is everything okay?”

I was like, whoa! And I said, “Yeah, everything’s fine. Why?” And she said, “Well, I’m used to you coming in and flashing your smile and asking me how my day is going and wishing me a good day, because you know, I’m going through a lot. My dad’s fighting cancer right now, and it’s been a really rough time for me. So you seem to brighten my day. And today when you didn’t, I thought maybe something was wrong.”

And that’s when it hit me. What I had been doing—flashing my smile and being all sunshine and lollipops to those around me, expecting something in return—was not compassion. Compassion is knowing and being that way, regardless of what I’m going to get in return, showering that person with love, because they’re a sister and a brother on this earth, whether they agree with me or not.

Here’s another story: I had an experience with a coffee guy. I do drink things other than coffee, but I was going through a drive-through, and the coffee shop employee was super nice, and I couldn’t help but tell him how awesome he was, and that this was a great job for him, because he’d just made my day. He’d made my day a lot more cheery, and all I’d done was go in to get a cup of coffee. So I said, “Thank you for that, and God bless you,” and off I went. Four years ago or something, I probably wouldn’t have said a thing, and I probably wouldn’t have appreciated a person on the other end of that speaker being so joyous and trying to make my day happy.

So that is what it’s all about this week; I want you to really look at everyone through the lens of compassion. Every single one of us has some struggles.

But don’t do it selfishly; don’t be insincere and expect something out of it. Don’t go into it thinking, “Oh, I’m going to be loving and kind to this guy so he’ll buy my XYZ services or my XYZ product.” That’s not what I’m talking about. It’s being nice to the people that you normally might not be.

It’s easy to be compassionate to the person that you know and you like and you already love. Try it on the people that you don’t know. Flash that smile, tell someone to have a fabulous day. Buy that person coffee or Panera or whatever it is behind you, and then just say, “Have a blessed day.” Just be out there and be more compassionate this week.

That’s my challenge for you, and I will send a couple of things along the way to share what’s happening in my week. But if you have a fundamental thing that happened to you, share it with the community. I think it would be awesome for people to say something like, “Hey, Kendra, I was about ready to split this guy’s head open, and all of a sudden I just looked at him with compassion. and all my angst and my anger went away, because of what your video said for me to do—to really look at people and understand that everyone is carrying their own crosses.”

So good luck this week. Let’s keep in communication. Again, if you’re not already a member, go to www KendraVonEsh.com/collective to get these regular updates, and please share far and wide, because it can’t hurt to be living life—at least this week—with more compassion.

God bless.

Kendra Von Esh

Kendra Von Esh is a Speaker, Faith Coach, and Author who has a passion to help others to deepen their relationship with God and the Catholic Faith.