Is compassion like a womb? No, I think it IS a womb.
Hot burning embers can be thought of like the womb of a fire. As the embers feed the flames of a fire from below; we see the flames move and dance, but the embers, although hidden are necessary for the flame to exist and persist. The embers themselves take a bit of time and nurture to become hot and stay hot. Thus, this womb (the embers) needs a womb of protection and growth itself (the fire-creator, us).
What happens in a woman’s womb? A tiny little new human being is protected, nourished, and given all it needs to grow, develop and thrive. It’s not something the woman needs to think about and direct her brain to tell her abdomen, blood vessels and heart to do. Our bodies just know how to do it, and the baby knows how to receive it as well. But doesn’t the woman, the womb of the womb need protection too?
Isn’t this what compassion is? It’s a protected space in our hearts that allows our thoughts and feelings for another person, a group of people, an idea, a cause, a belief to be protected, nourished and given all it needs to grow, develop and thrive. When we try to think about it and force it, it’s not a natural flow of compassion. It’s contrived and maybe half-hearted at best. But when it’s natural, it’s unstoppable and beautiful.
Where did I get this thought? Well, I didn’t make it up. In writing our training manual for our first new volunteer training, I came across this Hebrew definition of the word compassion in scripture. Isaiah 63:7 states, “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us – yes, the many good things he has done for Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.”
It makes perfect sense in this context. When God has compassion for us, he provides the perfect womb of protection, love, nourishment and all we need to grow, develop and thrive. And even more, in this context, the womb is not just for babies, it is and can be and needs to be for adults as well. We are the wombs of the wombs. We need protection and growth in order to allow for growth and protection of those around us and the next generation. I know I’ve been in a state where I wanted to curl up in a ball and hide before. What better place to do so than in God’s womb of compassion? He is after all, our creator, and perfect provider and protector.
This word compassion, translated womb (literally as cherishing the fetus), shows up in many other verses in the Bible too:
~ [God] redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion. Psalm 103:4
~ The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalm 145:9
~ I will show compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land. Jeremiah 16:5
~ Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. Lamentations 3:22
~ This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’ Zechariah 7:9
These verses are all incredibly encouraging, especially in the times we are living. This last verse leads to my final thought. Can I, can we all grow in compassion, so much that it becomes natural and not contrived? Well, according to this verse, we not only can, but we are commanded to by God.
Natural compassion has been damaged by the introduction of sin into this world. It’s just not natural to us anymore. But it can become more natural to us again as we receive compassion from God, as children of God in His womb.
I know, for me, it has not been a quick and easy road to having true and natural compassion for the people in my life, for people all around me even. But as I’ve journeyed through healing the deepest darkest hurts in my life, I’ve grown in God’s womb of compassion, and in turn, my compassion for others has grown by leaps and bounds. The place to start then, is with ourselves. Do we know God? Do we truly know His compassion for us? Have we received it fully and lived as forgiven children of God? If not, then we will be hindered in growing our compassion for others.
As shown in this time-lapse video, growth takes time, and happens under the surface at first. But great beauty can rise up and out of it. So I would encourage you to seek God in the scriptures and work through this compassion journey with your church or pastor. If you are struggling particularly with a past abortion and/or sexual trauma and possibly subsequent sexually destructive behavior, we can help you with Bible studies specific to these topics. As we heal, the invisible blood vessels of intimacy with God are unblocked, reconnected even, and His love and mercy can flow into us and feed and grow our spirits.