A quote from Henri Nouwen popped up on my Twitter timeline a few weeks ago:
As disciples of Jesus, we are sent to where there is poverty, loneliness, suffering of any kind.
We are given the courage to be with suffering people. We can trust by entering into places of pain, we will find the joy of Jesus.
A new world grows out of compassion.
He’s right—in my experience, Nouwen usually is. But here’s a thing we need to remember: being with suffering people, entering into places of pain takes practice. Practical practice, not role-playing. Getting knee-deep in the muck, not standing near it.
Here’s another thing we need to remember: it won’t get easier with practice. But because we are humans, and because God made us to be together, it will feel more natural.
Like a new, challenging exercise. Or parenting.
Eventually you stop feeling like you’re walking around with your legs on backwards.