Compassion is the connection or covenant relationship between two equal partners. This definition of compassion was expressed in my audible book Tattoos on the Heart. This book was recommended and given as a gift by a friend at work. The work of Gregory Boyle will compel you to explore compassion, boundaries, and empathy.
For twenty years, Gregory Boyle has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. In Tattoos on the Heart, he distills his experience working in the ghetto into a breathtaking series of parables inspired by faith.
During his work he discovered the power of waiting for the opportunity to minister based on the readiness of the gang member. He knew that his efforts to force change were futile. He prayed and waited and built relationships based on human compassion. Once they were ready, he listened and set forth healing support and opportunities through treatment, work, and connection that was based on love.
One particular gang member shared a dream he had with Mr. Boyle that led him to a desire to change. His dream became a vision for his future. The relationship set him up to consider the dream as a poetic prophesy.
He shared with Mr. Boyle that he was sitting in a dark room with no light. Mr. Boyle came into the room with a flashlight, and with no words spoken, he turned the flashlight on and shined the beam of light at a light switch on the wall. Without words spoken, he knew that if he wanted to remove the darkness, he would have to get up, walk over to the light switch, and turn the light on in the room. In his dream, he got up, walked over and turned the switch on. He shared that he never knew how dark his life was until the light poured into the room changing everything about his surroundings. He was overtaken by the realization that it took him making the choice to make the difference. He began to cry as he shared the dream and conveyed the beauty of the light. Through tears and sobs, he said, “I guess my brother never turned on the light.” He was referring to his brother who had just passed away from violence.
It’s a choice.
Talking to a friend the other day, we closed out our phone conversation with her saying, “I pray she finds the light.”
It was too sacred a moment for me to say, “No way! You did not just say that.” I hung up, and said to myself, “You are listening, God. Thank you.”
May this day, July 4, be filled with the freedom that His light brings. We may struggle with darkness, but His light will always shine and pierce the darkness with beauty, hope, and love.
I encourage you to read this book of compassion. His work and their stories will bring you hope and deepen your faith. God is faithful to empower us to make choices that are life-changing.