At what age did you lose your compassion?

I read this question on the internet the other day, and it has been bouncing around in my brain ever since.  My first thought of course was, “I haven’t lost my compassion.”  But then I had to call boloney on that one.  I asked my husband this question last night after getting little to no sympathy for some aches and pain I was experiencing.  His response:  “about one year after I married you.” 

Alrighty then.

It is no secret by those who know me near and dear that I am a hard hearted person.  But I wasn’t always.  I tried to remember when I lost my compassion.  I remember as a little girl being very torn up when I saw a dead dog or cat in the road.  And I remember having to tell myself one day that I was going to have to deal with it, it was just a fact of life.  Dogs and cats die on streets every day.  I began to avert my eyes when I saw one and go on with life.

Of course I like to think I have some compassion.  I have compassion for children, for victims, for the elderly, for the sick.

But loving people is hard for me.  I’m not sure why.  I wish it were easier.  I used to love and I wanted to help others.  I was for the underdog, and I even began a graduate program to be a professional counselor.  I felt sorry for people.  I wanted to help them.   But at some point, I got jaded.  I learned that not everyone is genuine, that some even use emotions to manipulate and connive.  I learned that most people end up in their predicaments because of choices they make, not all, but most.  And some people even repeat those choices to dig themselves a deeper and deeper pit.  And some then want you to dig them out of the pit they dug for themselves.  It’s hard for me to have compassion for that.

Yet, that is what we are called to do.

I saw a couple of men standing at the corner by our Walmart the other day with a cardboard sign.  I judged them.  Immediately.  Two men.  Able bodied.  Young.  Clean-shaven.  It’s not likely they had been to war.  It’s not likely they were both suffering mental illness.

Get a job instead of a handout.

It’s a tough one.   Because I know by the same measure I use, that will be used against me.  I know that, and yet, I can’t help it.


A road crew was working outside my bedroom window where I was attempting quite unsuccessfully to put my daughter down for an afternoon nap.  I shut the window and turned on the fan to drown out the beeps and grinds of their back hoe/front loader/interrupter of sleep machines.  Right at the point of entering Napdom, there was a knock on the door.  I decided it was probably one of the road crew informing me that I was about to be blocked in my drive, so I got up and opened the door.

Instead of a man in an orange vest, I was met by a young boy, man rather, of about 23 or 24 years old.  He apologized for bothering me and went on to tell me his woes.  I’m sure you’ve heard them yourself.  I’m stranded, I’m afoot, I’m hungry, I need to get to Abilene, I walked from a town 30 miles away, if I could only get to Roswell, and finally do you have any work for me so I can have some money for food?

His eyes were a vivid blue.  He held a large McDonald’s cup in his hand.  He had a dip in his mouth, and the way he kept using his tongue to push the dip deeper into his lip told me he was  either new at dipping snuff or had a nervous habit.  Both the McDonald’s cup and the snuff were good indicators to me that he obviously had some money.  Probably more than I.

No, I have no work for you.  Good luck and have a good day.  I closed the door and watched through the window as he walked off in his baggy dirty blue jeans with the snuff ring in a back pocket.  As soon as he was out of ear shot, I used my key fob to lock my car where I had left my purse earlier in the day.  Yes, I think the worst of most people.

I walked back to the bedroom where my baby is yelling from the bed, and the question comes to me again.


At what age did you lose your compassion?

And then also, do not forget to entertain strangers for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.

Was this a test?  What if my child someday is knocking door to door for money, might I hope someone help her?  My conviction got the best of me.  So I threw some vienna wienies, half a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, a couple bottles of water and some nutrigrain bars in a plastic sack.  I threw my baby on my hip.   I threw some shoes on my feet and headed out the door.  His legs were longer than mine and he’d walked much farther than I expected in amount of time it took for me to gather up the stuff.  He’d walked past the road crew, around the corner, and was standing in a neighbor’s drive way when I found him.  I handed him the sack of food and wished him well.

He thanked me.

I wanted him to vanish right then and there.  To vaporize into thin air.  Just to prove that I had passed my test.  That yes, he was an angel and I had helped him and had pleased God.  But he didn’t.  He probably chunked my food in the nearest dumpster on his way down the road.  My brand new unopened jar of peanut butter which was a big sacrifice for me.

Did I feel compassion for this man?  Not really.  I felt guilty for not helping him.  I felt convicted that I might be judged and not helped someday I find myself in need.  I felt tested.  At what age did I lose my compassion?

Hmm…….It was such a long time ago, I don’t remember.

So do we all lose compassion?  Do we all become jaded?  Does life harden us?  Or is it just me?

What about Mother Theresa?  Wasn’t she the most compassionate human on earth?  Was it forced for her?  Was it out of duty?  Responsibility?  Fear of retribution?

Do you have the answers for me?

At what age did you lose your compassion?




  1. Oh, wow. I have been in the same situations. And sometimes it is compassion; sometimes guilt that causes me to help. When one works with the public, teaching or in the courts as I am, it’s easy to become jaded. We see the parents who use their children to gain favors, money, new coats they take back for the money; bad choices over and over again. But I also see their addictions that ruin their lives as well as those of their family; the abuse that continues from one generation to the next; the circumstances that make us the people we are. Sometimes, just sometimes, I can see them as Christ sees us.


    1. Angel says:

      It’s hard isn’t it….but we are called to love as Christ loves.


  2. Mama says:

    WOW! That’s a tough one! I don’t have any kind of an answer for that! I don’t think I’ve ever lost my compassion………I think I have way too much!


    1. Angel says:

      yes, you have too much.


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