I am very proud of my spouse tonight. He is with his widowed father who called a couple hours ago and asked to be taken to the hospital. That might seem like something a son should do for his father, without hesitation. Learning one's parent is in need would elicit an automatic response in many, if not most, people, but our family relationships have been strained and complicated. We have had extremely turbulent times with my spouse's father through the years. There is no need to list all the reasons. I'm not sure we even know all the reasons. Every family has trials and tribulations, and ours has had more than we'd like to admit.
Despite the years of turmoil and feeling emotionally abused and unloved, my spouse did the compassionate thing for his father tonight. It was the right thing to do. Earlier in the evening, upon hearing his father wasn't feeling well, my spouse called and offered to take him to the doctor or the hospital. My father-in-law chose to not accept either offer, but mentioned he felt he needed some in-home care. My spouse searched for some options, then called his father with a list of possible solutions. My father-in-law had a difficult time grasping what his son was trying to tell him, but my spouse showed great patience.
Even though my spouse willingly did what was asked of him, I would have understood if he'd chosen to let it go at that. Afterall, he had covered the basics and provided the needed assistance. But he didn't leave it at that, which is why I am very proud of him. This very moment he is sitting with his father in the emergency room while tests are being run. That's not the only reason I'm proud of him, of course, but it's an example of my spouse as a strong and loving person who is able to show compassion to a man who has rarely shown that sort of compassion to him or any of our family members.
So where does compassion begin or end? To whom should we show compassion? Should we choose to help only those we love and respect? Should we choose to help only those who seem to love and respect us in return? As human beings who are less than perfect, each of us needs to know someone cares. Sometimes compassion even comes before forgiveness. I don't know if my spouse has been able to forgive his father for all the things spoken and unspoken and for his actions, inaction, and apathy through the years, but I know he is showing a great deal of compassion for his father right now and that's exactly what I think we are called to do. I don't believe there are any rules which govern how much one should do for another in need. We should always follow our hearts.