12 Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
There’s an educational exercise that helps people experience empathy given to those who take the Family to Family course offered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Participants sit in chairs, and they are given a pen and paper and told to focus on the leader who will be giving verbal, complex instructions on how to draw an undisclosed shape. Behind each of the seated participants are participants with scripts to read.
When the leader begins to read the complex instructions to the seated participants, the participants behind them start yelling out the phrases on the scripts. A cacophony of loud voices are heard yelling fearful, self hating, nonsensical, and troubling statements at the participants. Because of the loud voices, it’s impossible to follow the leader’s instructions to complete the drawing with all the different voices vying for attention. No one finishes their drawing. This exercise shows how difficult it is for someone experiencing certain mental disorders to function in every day life. Imagine the energy required to stay focused on the person speaking right in front of you. It’s exhausting.
Most participants at this point feel either shocked or they cry, because they had no idea what it’s like for a loved one who experiences auditory verbal hallucinations. Everyone leaves with more understanding, compassion and patience.
But what about all those voices each of us hears each day? We’re bombarded daily by angry, hateful voices telling us we’re failures, or worse. The loudest critical voice is usually our own. But God’s voice says the opposite, we’re God’s choice, loved, and made holy through Christ, to be God’s instruments of flowing compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Unless we consciously put on this identity of Christ, and are transformed by the Spirit to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient to ourselves, we will have nothing to give others.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Through Christ, we are God’s chosen children, holy and loved. This is our reality, not what all those other voices say. What voices do you need to stop listening to that harm your spirit and deny what God says about you? How does it make you feel to know God chose you? Which of these do you need to “put on” compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, to fully experience who God created you to be?
Prayer: Holy and Loving God, let your voice be the voice we hear clearly, above the noise of all the negative voices, including our own. Help us to remember you chose us, love us and are transforming us to be the instruments of your compassion to others. Amen.