Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Compassion and Suffering

There is a song by Kendrick Lamar called “Fear” that asks the question, “Why God, why God, do I have to suffer?” It’s a hard song to listen to at times, as the lyrics describe the fear of a child living in the home of an abusive parent. I awoke this morning with that song playing in my mind. Weird how that happens, don’t you think?

Let me state very clearly here, that I do NOT have any first hand experience with child abuse. I was raised in a home with two loving parents. I was surrounded by kindness and compassion. Growing up, I took these things for granted. Today, I know how blessed I am to have been so loved.

That said, I have heard enough stories from fellow recovering addicts about childhoods full of abuse or neglect to have developed a degree of empathy for anyone who grew up, or is growing up in such circumstances. Suffering of this type is difficult for me to comprehend. How any adult could think it is ok to abuse a child is so beyond me. I’ve even heard stories of adults laughing at such things. Stories of adults who would spike a child’s food or drink with drugs so they could watch that child act in strange and erratic ways.

Oh God, what have we become?

Suffering doesn’t end when the abused or neglected child moves out of the home. In the same way that I can look back and recall fond memories with Mom and Dad, victims of abuse have memories of their abuse and their abusers.

It’s easy to point a finger at our society and claim that more needs to be done. Easy to ask the question, “Oh God, what have we become?” There is a more important question though. One that is harder to ask, because the answer can be painful.

Oh God, what have I become?

Over time, my drug use made me increasingly self-absorbed. Life became all about what Kent wanted. There was no room for compassion. No room for genuine concern for others. I was surrounded by hurting people, women mainly, many of whom were victims of abuse.

I told myself I was a good guy. I even pictured myself as generous for sharing my drugs with them. It was an illusion. My actions were neither good nor generous. Rather, they facilitated a life of even more abuse and neglect. I had become part of the problem.

Oh God, what have I become?

Through the Narcotics Anonymous program, and by practicing spiritual principles, I am slowly becoming part of the solution. Yesterday, I wrote about compassion with healthy boundaries. Boundaries that I’ve established to help protect me and my family. There is nothing wrong with such boundaries, they are vital for me.

At the same time, when I see an opportunity to extend compassion, I must do so. I feel a sense of obligation toward the people around me who suffer. No, not obligation to stop their suffering, I’m not able to do that. I can, however, let people know that I care. Sometimes it’s a simple word of encouragement. At other times, it might be a meal or a blanket.

I don’t have an answer to Kendrick Lamar’s question. I don’t know why people have to suffer. Why I experienced love and affection while others had none.

I do know that no one has to suffer alone. No one needs to live a life haunted by a painful past, or a drug-numbed present. Through the Narcotics Anonymous program, people find relief from their suffering. I’ve seen it work in the lives of others who have experienced abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to love and protect. I’ve also seen it work in my case, where abuse was self-inflicted.

Compassion can be such a rare commodity in our world today. I’m thankful to have found a place where there is always an abundance of it. A place where we no longer have to suffer. A place of relief. A place that offers a new way of life.

Oh God, thank you for what I am becoming.

Have a remarkable day!


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