There is a pattern that I find in the radically compassionate. It is consistent across genders, age, and geographies. It crosses economic, racial, and personality profiles. It is a pattern that I strive to emulate and follow, albeit not always successfully! The best way of summarizing this pattern is defer to Wisdom’s description of the feminine form of the observation.
“First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day.” (Proverbs 31.17, 18)
It isn’t that it is fun to get started, frequently it isn’t! I do not sense any consistent voice of martyrdom; rarely are these individuals looking to be heroes. I cannot find a need for glory and attention; in fact the more frequent characteristic in common is one of humbleness, humility, and quiet determination.
What drives a man to work in the middle of the night in sub-zero weather driving a high-lo while dispensing acts of mercy and compassion? His peers certainly are not looking for this, nobody is going to take notice, and it will never earn him extra money. What drives a woman to take care of the myriad of house unrewarding home tasks while teenage children learn to stretch their legs under her care and freedom? It cannot be for the pay that isn’t there or the emotional reward which may only come in time and eternity. What drives another to run a business with honesty and ethical relationships when every event in life suggests that the ends justify the means? It cannot be for the short-term rewards unless one is looking for stress, extreme emotional strain, and financial uncertainty.
There is a pattern found within each of these lives reflecting what I know of the Divine. The heart of their lives state that love, compassion, and mercy are things worthy of life and death. The essence of the pattern finds a zest for doing good, living community, and struggling against every obstacle; God’s models.