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Compassionate Sharing

Sherri Hunter

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind…in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

- Philippians 2: 1-4

Back in 2005 shortly after Elise was baptized, my family “broke up” with our church over internal politics. I started looking for a new church when Emily Dozier invited me to a parenting Sunday school class at Mount Olivet. I was immediately drawn in by the subject and to the larger church, where people seemed to be happy to be there – a refreshing change. I originally attended for myself – my needs. I was looking for help, or at least fellowship, as I navigated motherhood. I’ve been so thankful for this outlet for the last 15(!) years. While I still look to my small group for guidance, I’ve also been glad to grow into the role of giving back. Now among the older class members, I am glad to be able to share my experience with others.

As you may know, I am an event planner, to my very core. It is my primary function at work and important at home. I have been honored and excited to share my natural talent with Mount Olivet in the Bountiful Bargains Bazaar, fundraising campaigns, and the summer concert series.

So, when the pandemic started in earnest in our area, I definitely fell into a funk when our family’s weekly classes, sports, entertainment, and social activities were wiped off our calendars, as well as long-range planning for Claire’s prom and graduation celebrations and everything else. At work, my focus became mitigating risks from cancelling or postponing our meetings, which are 18 months in the making. I am very thankful, however, that my husband and I are still working.

Shortly after stay-home orders were issued, I recognized that our class leader was facing draining challenges while responding to the crisis in her new role in the Arlington County government. I was happy to take over coordinating our class meetings by Zoom every Sunday. Hooray, I get to plan an event!

I read an article recently on LinkedIn that resonated with the role Spirited Parents has in my life. The writer discussed the power of kindness and compassion, including self-compassion, in leaders’ response to the crisis. She noted that we should “mindfully allow ourselves to feel how we're feeling, without suppressing the negative, while at the same time relating our experiences to the perspective of a broader, connected community.” She also says that demonstrating compassion requires us to be vulnerable by talking about our feelings so we can connect with others, and they with us. To give back to Spirited Parents, I have made myself vulnerable while sharing intimate details of my own life, so others know they are not alone if they are having similar experiences. Sharing our fears and hopes helps us to know that during this crisis or just during life, we’re all in this together.

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