Compassion for others is really hard if you think you are deserving of something, or overly focused on yourself most of the time. Most of us probably struggle at least from time to time in the area of becoming inward.
I've actually been doing a lot of meditating on what it means to truly die to yourself, and live for Christ. Sometimes, the painful crushing of our lives is like the crushing of the root and leaves that bleeds the fragrant essential oils. Sometimes, the sweetest fragrance comes from the life fully surrendered, dead to oneself, and out comes the sweetest fruit. But what does that really look like? To die to yourself? (Gal. 2:20) To consider others esteemed higher than oneself? (Phil. 2:3)
In the book, the Way of the Heart, by Henri Nouwen, he talks about this idea of "Dying to one neighbor".
"To die to our neighbors means to stop judging them, to stop evaluating them, and thus to become free to be compassionate. Compassion can never coexist with judgement because judgement creates the distance, the distinction, which prevents us from really being with each other."
It is hard to minister to someone, anyone really, when your heart is full of "yuk" toward them, their choices, or circumstances. I love how he puts it on page 36:
"It is folly for a man who has a dead person in his house to leave him there and go weep over his neighbor's dead"
When you spend time in the "solitude" of your own "house" and weep for the dead inside, it leaves room to be compassionate toward others. Forgiveness for others only happens when we see the "plank" in our own eye. (Matthew 7:3)
Finally, one last quote from this section of the book...
"...solitude molds self-righteous people into gentle, caring, forgiving persons, who are so deeply convinced of their own sinfulness and so fully aware of God's even greater mercy that their life itself becomes ministry. In such a ministry there is hardly any difference left between doing and being."
Father, nurture my heart, and tend to my garden, the garden of my soul on the inside, like Anthony, and the desert fathers, let my heart be cultivated in the secret place on the inside. Amen.