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Updated: Aug 11, 2023

Compassion is innate. But it can also be learned and enhanced.

Do you remember who taught you to have compassion?

Is there a single moment you remember that inspired your heart? Or did you grow up seeing it, learning it and then choosing to express it?

I believe that compassion deserves to be a legacy in every family. What we teach our children now affects the many generations that follow.

And here is why….

Ever since I was a little girl, my Mother has had a significant influence on me in the arena of compassion. I have an idea of who she learned compassion from, but I know for a fact God created my Mother’s heart to be tender, caring, sensitive to other’s needs and, most of all, graciously understanding.

Growing up, my Mother brought me everywhere. Whatever she was involved in, I was too. It was all hands on deck and wherever we went, we always brought a gift and lended a helping hand.

“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”-Proverbs 21:36

As a teenager, my mom helped launch a local Compassion Center with a few of her friends from church. From time to time, I would mumble and grumble leading up to every event my Mom had volunteered us for. I mean what teenager doesn't want to just be with their friends? But I can tell you that as soon as I got there and started putting in the work, the atmosphere was so full of love, that I couldn’t resist wanting to encounter everyone and take part in the joy that was happening. And it happened every single time.

My High School years were a bit bumpy. I had endured some pretty hard circumstances that landed me in some serious counseling. My teen privileges were revoked for the summer of 2001. I served at the church with my Mom out of desperation to just interact with people all the while struggling to understand who I was.

But God was up to something!

In mid July there was a project for kids going back to school and providing them with new backpacks and all of the supplies they needed.

My Mom had paired me up with her friend Brenda to go door to door asking families if they needed provision for that next school year. Brenda didn't take me to your typical neighborhood, she took me straight into the projects. I was so nervous to be there as I stood out like a sore thumb.

But each door we knocked on, and each person we encountered, the fear slowly melted away and I began to embrace a deep love for this community of people.

We went to about 100 homes in one day. The compassion that sprouted in my heart that day healed some of my very own traumas.

That August, we packed at least 1000 backpacks with the necessary school supplies for every grade. It was stressful and tedious but worth overcoming every obstacle. When we were all done and the backpacks were delivered, the spark of compassion ignited in my heart. I went back to school that year with a new perspective, and it wasn’t about myself.

It was about others.

What I have learned over the years is that compassion is not just about having the feelings of “sympathetic pity and concern for others' sufferings,” it is about truly having the heart to understand and relate.

Compassion is about meeting others where they are at and loving them entirely for who God created them to be.

I may have been born with compassion but my Mother implemented the importance that compassion requires our action. It is the gift that keeps on giving. And to this day, I yearn to serve those in need. To listen to those who are struggling and suffering in ways I may not understand. To remain considerate and gracious to humanity….

I am a mother now to a beautiful daughter. Instilling a heart of compassion in her is a main priority of mine. God has shown me who He made her to be. She has a tender heart and she loves to love. Caring and thoughtful recognition of others has been shown to her by my example. Although my daughter is only a toddler, and believe me, she has her moments, I see sparks of compassion arise in her especially when she comes up to me and hugs me all on her own during a moment I am struggling in.

This is proof that the legacy my mother instilled within me is being passed on.

I truly believe that when our children know the compassionate heart of the Father and of our savior, Jesus Christ, that is when they can become a compassionate people. It will change the way they live. Let us raise world changers. And may we continue the legacy of compassion within ourselves, our families and everyone we encounter.

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. Psalm 116:5

~ Stefanie Rodriguez

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