Challenges, Commitment, For Men, For Women, Love

Compassion Through Solitude

Compassion is essential to a Godly marriage.

Easy to say, harder to live out.

Marriage seems to be blissful for the first year or so. About 3 years into it, you may find yourselves bickering a little bit more and if you make it to the 5 year mark, it’s said to be smoother sailing (depends on who you ask I guess).

For us, we had an amazing first 5 years. Please hear my heart, I’m not saying this to boast about how problem-free our marriage was, but more to attest to the grace of God and how having Him as our glue made all the difference.

Not every day was marital bliss, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that solitude with Jesus is where it all starts.

Ryan and I can’t weather the storms of life and have compassion for each other if we don’t first spend time alone with our Savior.

Without God in our lives, compassion would be non-existent…our marriage might be the same.

Defining compassion

To have compassion for someone means you are coming together with them in the midst of their situation. It’s the idea of taking on that person’s hurts and pains as your own and working to bring relief.

There is no truer testing ground for compassion than in marriage.

Walking side by side with someone through life requires compassion.

In it’s truest sense, compassion means coming alongside someone when they are struggling and being with them; feeling with them, loving them and gently working to resolve the pain.

Don’t underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate

Compassion is not our first reaction to disagreements or fights.  In his book The Way of the Heart, Henri J.M. Nouwen states “Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken.” (p.34)

In our day and age we want quick, clean resolutions to our messy and broken marriages. It’s just not that simple.

First things first, we need Jesus. We need to go to the Source and Creator of compassion.

Spending time with our Savior King in solitude is the beginning of a transformed heart, which can in turn show compassion to others.

Solitude: Not being alone

Solitude seems like a daunting and negative word. In the context of Christianity, we are all called to solitude – to spend time alone; no music, no phone, no distractions – just you and God.

It’s out of solitude with Christ that real compassion flows.

The 2 books I’ve read by Nouwen focused on solitude and how it is “the furnace of transformation.” (p. 25)

Why? Because it causes us to face ourselves. Our broken, sinful selves.

We often try so hard to appear as if we have it all together, because actually facing our problems is work. It will take time, it’s often painful, and it’s easier to ignore the problems than face them.

However, this is not the life that Christ calls us to lead, and although it seems scary, the truth is that we are not alone in facing these battles.

Christ is ALWAYS (Hebrews 13:5) with us; we have brothers and sisters in the faith who can and will pray for us – WE are not alone.

It’s in that solitude, this time with our Lord, that we can struggle with our sinful “compulsions” (p.39) “and let our new self be born in the loving encounter with Jesus Christ.” (p. 40).

Our new selves will be clothed with compassion, leading us to act in accordance with Christ and as a result, loving our spouse and glorifying God in the process.

It’s in this solitude with Christ where we find healing, restoration, and for the sake of this post: compassion. Enough compassion to share with others, and most importantly, our spouse.

Where to find the real answers

Friends, we are all broken and we all need an encounter with Christ (married, engaged, single).

There are answers everywhere on how to live a happy, successful “Christian” life – but what it ultimately boils down to is Jesus Christ.

It’s not about faking a smile so you can get thought the day,  or tackling mind-monsters through positive thinking…

Solitude with Christ is the answer.

 

New creation

Because it is only in Christ that we can become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) with hearts that are transformed from hardness to compassion.

“It is in solitude that this compassionate solidarity grows. In solitude we realize that nothing human is alien to us, that the roots of all conflict, war, injustice, cruelty, hatred, jealousy, and envy are deeply anchored in our own heart. In solitude our heart of stone can be turned into a heart of flesh, a rebellious heart into a contrite heart, and a closed heart into a heart that can open itself to all suffering people in a gesture of solidarity.” (p. 34)

Compassion comes when we realize our own brokenness and go to Christ. When we allow our pride to die and ourselves to grow and become who we truly are in Christ.

Life in Christ is our hope for eternity.

Our marriages, our families, THIS world needs hearts full of compassion!

It all starts in solitude with Jesus.

Question: When is the last time you spent time with God in solitude without distractions? I would encourage you to set aside at least 30 minutes one day and spend time with God (no journal, perhaps your bible near you), but just sit and adore Him, wait on Him and later write down what it is that you experienced with Him and share it with your spouse.

 

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  • Sudea

    Thank you for sharing this! We are on the four year mark and I noticed we bicker a little more and lose the “I” language. Many things have changed in our marriage that we somewhat prepared for: job loss, then new job, and then baby and again another baby. I love the grace of God that takes us through our marriage; we thank God everyday for one another and for his guidance in our marriage. Marriage takes lots of work and is so worth it! :) Thanks for doing what you guys do to affirm, build up, encourage couples!

    • Selena Frederick

      Sudea,
      Thank YOU for sharing and for the encouragement. God’s grace is sufficient for us in every situation-you are totally right. We appreciate your transparency and love hearing about how God is working in your lives. Such a blessing!
      -Selena

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