"To be exposed to stories of fear, horror, violence, hijacking and painful experiences of other people, trauma can backfire on the caring system and create a kind of spiritual exhaustion or 'caregiving trauma'. Caregivers may then suffer from an over-exposure to trauma and develop 'compassion fatigue'." -Daniël Louw Compassion fatigue is also known in many circles as “the cost of caring.” We have an empathic response to suffering, and we choose to enter in with our compassion. But there is so much of it, and it can feel so powerless, that we can become overwhelmed and even find ourselves numb to it all. And that’s *because* we cared – not because of some "apathetic" stance toward the world (which it perhaps what some of us tend to berate ourselves for in the midst of this experience of compassion fatigue). The answer is NOT to try harder to care, though that’s many of our responses when we’re in the thick of compassion fatigue – we wonder what’s wrong with us, feel guilty, and try harder. There isn’t something wrong with you; you haven’t done this compassion thing “wrong”. Dan Allender says, “You cannot be involved at the depths of human heartache, engaging in the realities of people’s lives without consequences. You can’t care and be at war for a person without having some level of your own wounds and scars.” Compassion fatigue, then, is at least partly a trauma response. We see suffering – and we see it *everywhere* these days, don’t we? – and there is some sense of inability to help when the pain is so widespread (and often even geographically distant, in our own day of graphic news coverage). And so we are left tired out from caring so deeply, and without recourse to alleviate of the suffering we are witnessing. It's a real thing, the cost of caring. And yet, something in us still knows *this* is exactly what we're meant to be doing. But sometimes? We need a break. We need to find ways to be cared for as well, to heal, to replenish. What do *you* need? Seek it out today (even if you "don't feel like it", think you shouldn't, or feel like it won't matter - hello, compassion fatigue!). What gift might God have for your soul today?

Posted by Jamie Bonilla at 2021-10-08 14:34:25 UTC