Don’t Feel Bad about Other People

Compassion, yes—pity, no.

Everyone has and makes their own choices in life.  And everyone can make a different choice right now in this moment if things aren’t going the way they want them.  The God who sent his Son to us to save the world can also send his power into our lives to save us from our circumstances.  When we turn to God for rescue, he will do it.  And he will show us how to make things right in our life and how to travel well the better path.

Do something, if you wish, to make other people’s holidays brighter, but don’t do it out of obligation or guilt.  Many of us (i.e., we types of people) have carried way more than our fair share of “pity” and “guilt” for others through the years.  Now is the time to focus on our own family—because that is the only thing that we have responsibility for (and any real control over—and even at that, we are the only ones whom we can really control by adjusting our thoughts, attitudes, and choices).  If we have extra no matter how small (whether it be time, resources, or skills) and want to share it/give it to those outside our family, then great.  But I’m not really talking to those who have a regular inclination to extend a hand and some help to others (and we all should have this inclination).  I’m talking to those who have an excessive inclination to extend themselves beyond themselves—especially if and when the resources and energy just aren’t there.  If this is you as it has been me, it is important for us to judiciously conserve our strength and to exert what we can to benefit our own family first (because that can be challenging enough) so that we are better able to help those around us when and as we are able.  It makes no sense (and is hardly an effective witness for the Christ child) to help others while our own family is neglected.  Put first things first.  Each of us carries our own responsibility for our self and our own family.  As we do that well, we will have more and more capacity to do the kind of giving and service that we would prefer to do.

So a way to keep things balanced (especially at Christmastime) is to train yourself to not feel bad about other people for any reason.  This is not the same as having no empathy or not having a generous heart or not being sacrificial.  This is just putting a stop to allowing yourself to be manipulated emotionally (which is what a lot of charities and businesses count on, especially during this time of year).  Give as you choose, in any way you want.  But do it because you want to and because you can—not because you feel like you have to.

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