During my internship as a hospital chaplain, compassion was something I struggled with because I could feel people's pain so deeply. I wanted nothing more than to help relieve people's suffering. There were many nights I would leave the hospital feeling such a weight on my shoulders, wondering what would happen to my patients during the night, wondering how the families were doing, wondering who could care for their needs in the middle of the night is an emergency happened.
The compassion for these people weighed so heavy on my heart that it began to wear me down. When I was able to recognize this, I started a new practice. Every night before I left the hospital, I would stand in the parking garage that overlooked the hospital and I would pray that God would care for my patients when I couldn't. I prayed that God would relieve me of burden of caring and help me trust that He could care for them better than I could.
As we care for people, we have to become aware of our limits. We have to find ways of rooting down in the Lord and trusting that out of his love and compassion he cares for these people in ways that we cannot. We have to learn when to step back, when to move away, and when to pray so that we can continue to care for people in healthy ways.
Take a moment focus your thoughts toward compassion. Who are the people God has placed on your heart to care for? Where are the places you need to draw compassionate boundaries so you can care for yourself in order to maintain caring for others in the long run?