Sisterhood is using your own experiences to extend compassion to others  

That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
Romans 1:12 (NIV)

A couple of years ago, I was feeling really sorry for myself. Out of nowhere, a fluke accident caused me to tear my biceps tendon—snap! Big ouch. A couple of weeks of pain and a sling, followed by surgery, followed by eight weeks of immobilization in a stiff brace. As a writer and a graphic designer, losing the use of my dominant hand was the kind of challenge I just didn’t want. I couldn’t do any of the things I love—writing, using a computer, even eating. Showering. Brushing or curling my hair. Signing a check or charge slip. Jotting new activities on the calendar. Writing quick reminders on post-it notes. Grocery lists. Addressing an envelope. Filling in the answers in my Bible study book. Scribbling insights in the margins of books I’m reading. I typically spend lots of time with a pen in hand (a Tul medium point blue gel pen, to be precise). I love filling pages of any kind with my handwriting, smooth and glob-free thanks to my trusty pens.

But alas, for those two months, nada.

And I’ll admit it—I was a bit of a whiner. I didn’t feel good, I was inconvenienced, and my husband couldn’t do anything the way I wanted it to be done.

Soon, cards started to arrive in the mail. Friends—people I think highly of but didn’t know well—sent me cards… Actually stopped what they were doing and hand-wrote cards, which they stamped and mailed. When was the last time I did that? People sent texts, showed up with gifts and delicious carryout food, and I was touched by the helpful tips about managing pain sent to me by one friend with chronic conditions she’s learned to work around.

But the most humbling moment came when my friend Sherry walked into church one Sunday. This sweet, sweet woman has several serious medical issues and had recently fallen, hard, further injuring her already painful, messed-up back. She slowly walked into church, leaning on a cane, grimacing from the effort. Yet she lit up when she saw me, threw her arms around me, and said she’d been praying for me and worrying about how I’m doing.

She. Had been worried. About me.

When we’re hurting, when we are facing a big change (whether emotional or physical, whether tragic or just a big ol’ inconvenience), our natural response is to close in. Let our world get smaller. The pain blinds us to everything else, defining our days and confining our thoughts to ourselves. We—or at least I—become hyper-aware of my limitations and physical discomfort and it’s all I can think about.

But the people who make a difference are those who uncurl themselves, who come out of their circle of pain to reach out to others. Click To Tweet

Those who are not defined by their circumstances. Those who use their experiences to embody their compassion for others. Those who understand that even in pain, even in sorrow and hardship, God reigns. He never leaves. He’s not angry or punishing them. He loves and soothes and comforts and forgives and teaches and reveals and enlightens—whether we’re in pain or not. Whether we notice or not.

Just as I saw the compassionate heart of God through my friend Sherry, we can reach inside ourselves to lighten someone else’s trials or troubles. Through friends, God reminds us that no matter how lonely we might feel, we are not alone. We are not forsaken. We should not despair. He is so much bigger than the circumstances. He transcends our troubles, and we can too—by leaning on Him. He has given us sisters for such a time as this, and when we allow our love for God to lead us, we can become the vehicle through which God transcends the difficulty of the moment and brings to light something that is beautiful and humbling. Friendship laced with compassion and kindness will improve just about anyone’s day—and remind them just how much Jesus cares.

Reflection Questions

Think about a time when someone else’s experience enabled her to show compassion you didn’t expect. How did it make you feel?

What are some of the big experiences/challenges/trials in your life that shaped you? What did you learn as a result of them?

Do you know anyone going through a similar trial? If so, pray about how you can best encourage them.

Prayer

Lord, help me to pull my focus off myself. If I love You and trust You like I say I do, teach me to show that by reaching out to others. Draw me ever closer to You that I might draw ever closer to others and show them what Your love is all about. Transform our circumstances. Transform our perspectives. Transform our friendships, and transform our faith. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

19 thoughts on “Sisterhood is using your own experiences to extend compassion to others  

Jodie Whichard Barrett

I share a unique bond with a good friend who also lost her son. For as long as I can remember she has told me how helping others inturn helps her through grief. When my son passed away she reminded me to help others as much as I can. I try to live that out. I am reminded that scriptures say that I can share comfort because of the very comfort I have received. There is an amazing thing that happens when we reach out to others, “uncurling” as you say. It’s beautiful, strengthening, and it brings joy. Love you, Kelly. Thank you for leading the way today.

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    Cindy Krall

    My hubs says this all the time… “the best way to find joy is to ask ourselves every day what can I do for someone else.?” I’ve watched him live it out and it’s true. What life has asked of you (and your friend who also lost a son) is unfathomably hard. But I know that I (and many others) are learning and growing in our own faith as we see you choose to find joy in serving others. Love you SO very much.

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Maggie

This week a package goes out for Emily. She is living through a tough season. She has small children and her mom has cancer. Her mom is a foster mom so Emily is caring for them All. We dont know each other but ive raided her garden while foraging during a wild blessings class. Pray for Gods Joy to Strengthen Her and for providence to spill out at every turn.

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    Jodie Whichard Barrett

    Praying with you, Maggie. I know your package will be an encouragement to her heart. God is able to do so much with our small acts of love and kindness.

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    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Lord, we raise our voices with Maggie’s for Emily, her children, and her mom. Rain down joy and providence, hope and love. Amen.

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    Cindy Krall

    I keep hearing the verse “the joy of the Lord is my strength” and right on the heels of that “do not despise small begginigs.” I’m praying for joy for your friend even if it shows up in a small way. May it be the beginning of a turning point that is rich in blessings! Love you Miss Maggie!

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Nancy Silvers

I am going through a tough season-needing painful surgery, In the next six months I will, hopefully, be having two surgeries, on my jaws, that will require me to wear braces for a year. I say hopefully because these surgeries are extremely expensive. I have been leaning into God, my prayer partners and continuing to do for others. I have been volunteering as the intake person for our A Cup of Love food bank and making memory bears for families going through grief at the loss of a family member in hospice. The former is very painful because speaking is painful due to degenerative Osteoarthritis in my jaw, the latter I can do in the comfort of our home.

I am learning to be quiet in this season and grateful for each day. I also know, with God’s help, this will be temporary. 2020 is looking to be a challenging year but I am so grateful to have the correct diagnosis and a treatment plan for my facial/jaw pain.

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    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    You always demonstrate such hope and compassion for others. I love the way you show your faith. Lord, make the path smooth for Nancy, whatever it holds. Relieve pain, bring healing, and surround Nancy with people who can help as she goes through this and reflect your love back to her. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

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    Jodie Barrett

    You know I am praying Nancy. You have always been there to encourage me and I pray I can do the dame for you during this difficult season. Blessings, sweet sister.

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Nancy Silvers

Thank you sweet sisters for your encouraging words and prayers!

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    Cindy Krall

    We love you lady… praying for peace and direction during this chapter of your life.

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Peggy

This is what I needed today to remind me of the love people feel for each other. It is not put on or made up. I can just imagine this young lady doing such an act of love. I know just what I am going to do after work and that is throw my arms around her and show her that same kind of unconditional sisterly love. Thank you Kelly. Somehow it is always spot on when I read your writings. I know it is inspired by Jesus himself.

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    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    I love you, Peggy Sue. I love her, too. Give her a hug for me.

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    Cindy Krall

    Peggy, I love the fact that you know exactly what you need to DO. Sometimes that is the hardest part. I’m celebrating your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and your willingness to act on it. I’m certain that Jesus is smiling broadly!

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Heidi Benson

Thank you for this sweet reminder. It is so easy to fall in the trap of personal life experiences and the pain that surrounds them that we forget our pain can help someone else. I needed this reminder right now, 💜

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    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Thanks, Heidi. <3

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Cindy Wilkins

Being a child of divorce is painful but God in His amazing ways used my own experience throughout my teaching career to reach children in my classroom experiencing the same fears and pain I’ve experienced. What a gift it is to be able to use our rough spots to smooth the way for others! Beautiful thoughts Kelly!

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    Kelly O’Dell Stanley

    Thanks, Cindy! It is beautiful when God transforms our own pain into something helpful and useful.

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    Cindy Krall

    I love the fact that you can see how God has used a painful thing in your life for the benefit of others. So often, I think that’s a part of our own healing… purpose in the pain! thanks for sharing Cindy!

    Reply

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