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Compassion Is for Everyone with Cali Black

Tue Aug 15 05:00:32 EDT 2023

Compassion is a call to action. It helps us reach beyond comfort zones, friend circles, and ward boundaries to serve and love like Jesus would. As we’ve been studying peacemaking, one important part of that pursuit is that peacemaking takes work. It requires action on our part.

People don’t need my judgment; they need my compassion.
Cali Black

In this episode, Kathryn is joined by Cali Black. They discuss the action behind compassion and how that can bring more peace into our lives and the world.

Top Takeaways from this episode

  1. The Guide to the Scriptures states that compassion literally means to suffer with. Perhaps we can’t always suffer with others, but we can lead them to the Savior who knows how to suffer with us.
  2. When we ask for compassion for others, we will find that we have more compassion for ourselves as well that the Lord grants us.
  3. The Savior’s example of having compassion with no distinction means that we should strive to have compassion for others, even those who we might disagree with.
  4. Compassion can be noticed at a distance, and then it’s our job to move closer to that person to help alleviate their suffering.

Small & Simple Challenge

For the next week, when you go to bed at night, think of someone you might have thought a judgment about or said something out loud. Instead, see if you can switch your thoughts into something compassionate for that person.


Kathryn Davis 00:00

Compassion is a call to action. It helps us reach beyond comfort zones, friends, circles, and Ward boundaries to serve and love like Jesus would. Hi, and welcome to magnify an LDS Living podcast where we cheer, inspire and embolden each other as women and followers of Christ, we help to use our influence to make a difference in the world. I'm your host, Kathryn Davis, a mom, a seminary teacher, and a grilling enthusiast who loves God. One thing I've been learning as I've studied out what it is to be a peacemaker is that being a peacemaker isn't passive. It requires action on our part. Today, we're talking about the action behind compassion, and how that helps to bring more peace into our lives and the world. I'm excited to discuss compassion today with Cali Black, which Cali, seriously, I'm so I know how busy it is, especially with all those young kids and everything you're doing. So thank you so much for being here.

Cali Black 01:01

Well, it's busy, but it's also nice to then be able to just take a pause and talk about something else. So I love it.

Kathryn Davis 01:08

Okay, before we get into our discussion, which I'm really excited to dive into that today, I would love to get to know you and our listeners get to know you a little bit better. So we have a couple of rapid fire questions for you. Oh, all right. You ready?

Cali Black 01:25

Ready, bring it on.

Kathryn Davis 01:26

Okay, you have an Instagram account called Come follow me study with over 100,000 followers. And I just am curious, what is the difference between how it is ended up today versus what you imagined it when you began?

Cali Black 01:43

I had zero expectations other than this huge... it was like a prompting. I mean, for sure. It was the spiritual moment to start this account to help teach the young women in my ward about come follow me. And then the followers just came and I was like, Okay, wait, like, what, what just happened, and I'm not sure where to go with this. And it's been this beautiful, messy experience over the past four and a half years now that I've run this account, and it's it's big now. And it's so much fun. Like, there are so many amazing people. And I get to just talk about the Scriptures with them all day. I get to put out my thoughts and people respond and ask questions. And we figure things out together. And we we figure out like how do these scriptures apply to me right now? How can I change today because of what I read in the Scriptures today?

Kathryn Davis 02:41

Love that. Okay, this next question might be a little unfair, because I don't even know if you have a free hour. But when you have a free hour to do something you don't usually have time for what do you love to do?

Cali Black 02:57

Hmm. Okay, honestly, I love to play the piano. And I don't get time to play the piano very much in my current stage of life. I'm not like taking formal lessons. Right. And so it's usually just if someone needs a musical number for church, I'll practice for that or whatever. But to just sit down with a book at the piano and play through a whole bunch of songs is so relaxing. And it's like challenging enough, but not too hard, where I could just like, it's a little bit of a challenge, but I get to just enjoy it and try out some new songs. I enjoy that a lot. And I wish I'll say I wish I created more time for that. Because I always believe we have a choice with our time. Playing the piano is just like a fun, fun thing to do. If I'm the one choosing what songs I'm gonna play through and stuff.

Kathryn Davis 03:50

Right? Yeah, I have zero talent there. So that would not be where I would love to go spend an hour. But I do love like that idea of if I had a free hour, what is something that I would love to do that I usually don't create time for? Right? And maybe I need to create a little more time for that if I'm wanting to. Well, Cali, I am so anxious to talk to you today because we're going to be talking about how compassion helps us rise to the prophet's call to bring about peace in the world, from home to community and beyond. But part of being compassionate requires us to be active in our efforts to be peacemakers. In the guide to the Scriptures, it reads, "in the scriptures compassion means literally to suffer with. It also means to show sympathy, pity, and mercy for another." And I think it's interesting that our Prophet has asked us and has actually pled with us to become and be peacemakers, and part of that effort to be a peacemaker involves compassion. And so why do you think compassion is so important? And what do you think of that definition of compassion to suffer with?

Cali Black 05:11

Okay, so let's start with the definition. Because "com" compassion, right like "co", you're doing it with someone else, right? Yeah, this idea of suffering with them, I think can be really beautiful in certain situations. We just had a situation this past weekend where someone had a heartbreaking anniversary of a loss. And we all came together and did this big service project. And it was a cool experience. And in my heart, I mourned with this mother who had lost a child. I felt that struggle, that compassion for her, it's like we were mourning together. And I think the cool part of compassion, though, is that we don't necessarily leave it at that point, right? It's not just the feeling. "Oh, I feel bad for you. I feel a just a small portion of your pain." It's then okay, what can I What can I do with this? What can this propel me to do? I'm going to go to the service project, I'm going to send the text I'm going to show love to the other kids, whatever it is, it's what is that Next step? I don't know I'm, do we always have to feel their pain With them to feel that compassion? I think that's an interesting question to dive into. What do you what do you think about that?

Kathryn Davis 06:45

Well, that's what I've thought so much about like to suffer with. If that's truly compassion, Do I have the ability to suffer with everybody in my life that needs compassion? And especially even as a teacher, right? I have 160 Teenagers who need compassion, and can I suffer with them In those moments? Do I have the ability or even the mental capacity? I don't think I do. But I know that the Savior does. So is compassion, helping someone lead them to the Savior, I love that definition of compassion to suffer with as we talk about the Savior's compassion. So even if we go back to that definition, from the beginning, that I think I need to study a little bit more that compassion means to suffer with. Maybe compassion is also to help alleviate suffering. Right, that I can do what I can to help alleviate suffering, not necessarily feel all those emotions, but I can, with my savior, help alleviate their suffering.

Cali Black 08:01

I like that. And it's Yeah, we don't have to step into like the full range of their emotion. But to just kind of recognize, man, that would be tough. That would be really hard. There's also so many times when I don't know what it's like to have, you know, I have a good friend whose spouse has stepped away from the church and his cause some really tricky situations. I don't know what that's like. And yet my heart is just filled with that compassion of what can I do to help? What can I do to lighten your load? What are some things that might be tricky that I'm not even thinking of right now that I can help you with in order to help us all out to lighten each other's load to do what Jesus would do?

Kathryn Davis 08:44

Yeah, because I think sometimes we think we have to do it all alone, even from the Savior's perfect example of, of His compassion that he will suffer with us. And there is no need for us to do it alone. I even think of the Savior, When he went to Lazarus, and Lazarus had passed away and his sisters were weeping. And Jesus knew what he was going to do. He knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. But he took those moments to weep with them, and show compassion, right. But sometimes it's in that compassion, where healing comes, where empathy is found, and, and the Savior shows compassion for us and with us, and it is never anything we need to do alone. It's not a badge of honor. Right to suffer alone, which I think sometimes we think it is.

Cali Black 09:40

Oh, absolutely. "I can handle this. I don't need anyone's help."

Kathryn Davis 09:43

I got it.

Cali Black 09:44

Right. And yeah, Jesus is like "no, let me help you. Please let me help you. I understand. I understand even when no one else understands, even when you have those moments where like no one else could have true empathy because They don't get this exact issue that I'm dealing with." He does. And he can help lift us up and take that action. He can show us the next step.

Kathryn Davis 10:12

So Kelly, when have you felt the Lord's compassion in your life? When has he suffered with you?

Cali Black 10:21

Many little, little times. Raising kids has been the biggest blessing and the craziest experience ever. Right now, my kids are five, three, and one. So a lot of little kids, a lot of figuring out what my kids need, and what my kids don't need. And there have been many times where it's just the end of the day, and I don't know what to do. And I need help. And oftentimes, I'm alone. My husband serves a lot and works a lot. And it's a lot of times me at the end of the day saying, "Man, I don't know what this kid needs. And I am so frustrated. And you know, I've gone through so much today already, I don't know what more I can do." And I pray so hard. And I say, please help me have compassion on my kid. Because I know they've had a tough day too. And I know this may be a tough experience. And when I pray, the thing that I often feel the most is the Savior's compassion for me. Because all of a sudden, I start judging myself, I shouldn't be feeling this way about my kid, I shouldn't... I am not a great mom if I'm feeling annoyed by my child right now, or I'm sure other moms could handle these issues. And here I am struggling and I start piling all these judgments on top of myself. And I feel the Savior, showing me, man, this kid is lucky to have you as a mom, because you can figure it out. And when Elder Uchtdorf gave that beautiful talk for the strength of parents, and he said, no one else can love your kid, the way you do. I think about that all the time. That is my power for my kids. I love them more than anyone else. And so I can get to that beautiful compassion for them. But in the meantime, I need a lot of compassion for myself in figuring out what they need, and I think the Savior has showed me that in just very quiet, stressful, frustrating moments every single day, that peace that comes from knowing that he has compassion on me in my weaknesses, and the things that I still need to figure out.

Kathryn Davis 12:55

And isn't that powerful to think if we go back to that definition, that the Savior has compassion, because he's suffering with us in those moments and, and I don't know what it is about nighttime, Cali, and sometimes those like dark nights. And maybe when everybody else seems asleep or or not there, where I feel the most alone or I'm struggling with whatever that could be with health issues or being a better parent or being a better teacher, or whatever is going on in my life in those really lonely moments in the middle of the night, when I can turn to the Savior and feel of his compassion, right? To feel that he understands, that he knows. He gives me compassion for myself.

Cali Black 13:44

What a gift right?

Kathryn Davis 13:45

Yeah, President Nelson goes on to say this. And this was probably one of the quotes that struck me the most the first time I read this talk, he said this, "As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are to be examples of how to interact with others, especially when we have differences of opinion. One of the easiest ways to identify a true follower of Jesus Christ is how compassionately that person treats other people." What does that mean to you on a day to day?

Cali Black 14:13

Yeah, I mean, you can just see those social media posts, right. Like how compassionately they treat others. I think that quote is immortalized as beautiful. To me, it took me a long time to realize how judgmental I was. I think a lot of people are like, I'm not that judgmental, and then they're like, oh, so did you... Oh, yes, I am. Did you see this? Yeah. Right. Like you're constantly saying judgments about people or things or whatever it is. And so it's been this huge focus journey for me, probably the past five ish years of my life, to really try and get away from judging people because I just felt like I always had an opinion on what other people were doing and I didn't like it, but I wasn't sure how to stop it. And So this word actually came up, Elder Soares gave a talk, I think it was two years ago, and I even went back to my notes I like circled it. And I was like, this is the talk, because it was all about compassion. And I was like, I've never really focused on that word before. I think a lot of times I skipped over it in the Scriptures. I mean, I don't know, Jesus was moved with compassion and he did this. Cool. That's great. Right? But when Elder Soares focused in on, here's what compassion really is. And here's how it can change who you are. That was a huge step for me in this journey to realize that people don't need my judgment. They need my compassion. When they are late to drop off their kids somewhere, they need someone who's gonna say, are you okay? How are things going? Instead of they're late again. And so I have tried to turn into the person who's asking, how are things going? instead of even in my mind thinking, those judgmental comments, it's in every interaction with friends, with people at the store, like that bank story that I mentioned. And even at church, you know, when I'm interacting with people in callings, I think so often our brains want to judge how someone's teaching a lesson or how they're giving a talk, or how leadership in your ward is organizing XYZ. And to move to that place of man, I love them that they are willing to get up and teach a lesson. That is amazing. And I feel this compassion for them. And when leaders are making decisions about I don't know of some ward party or how they're going to do fifth Sunday, it's, "that's awesome. Good for them for volunteering their time to try and figure this out." So to see how compassion has changed my life, it's everything. It's the little things, it has changed, quite literally how I interact with everyone, day to day, and just want to be clear, I'm not, I'm not even close to perfect at it. I'm still getting a lot of the judgment stuff.

Kathryn Davis 17:07

Um, that's what I wanted to ask you. So you said you started really focusing on this about five years ago? Yeah. Has it become more natural for you to look at people with compassion? Was it hard at the beginning? How did you get into that practice or that habit?

Cali Black 17:24

Yes. So it was very hard at the beginning, but I would I would try and do as at the end of each day, I would kind of take a little mental notation. How am I doing with building compassion? What were the judgments that I said? and I started with the judgments, I would say out loud, which to be honest, usually were to my husband... like, Okay, I've got to tell you about this experience today. And so at first I started to try and rein in the judgments. I was like, verbally saying out loud, and making sure that instead, I would build compassion before I would say those judgments. And then I didn't want to say the judgments anymore. I'd be like, you know what, good for them for even showing up. That's awesome. And then I didn't have anything to complain about anymore. I'm like oh! Then, it's worked into my thoughts, and just making sure trying to catch when I do have those judgmental thoughts. It was really, really hard at first, but it's been a really cool journey, where I do feel like I've actually made a lot of progress. But I still have a long, long ways to go on catching everything.

Kathryn Davis 18:25

Okay, quick question for you, then. What do you think, is one of the greatest blessings that's come into your life, because you've been focusing on compassion?

Cali Black 18:39

Inner peace, 100%. That calmness where I don't feel like I have to have this dramatic story for every little thing that happens in my life. It's not like we're coming home from church. And I'm like, Okay, let me tell you about Relief Society today. Because things are crazy. Instead, it's just this calm, where I get to be like, God is great. Everything was great. Everything was everyone's so good. I love effort, but they're doing such a good job. They're doing their best. And I don't feel like I have to have this judgment or, you know, or I feel like I'm understanding what everyone's doing. And instead, just, just being calm, letting people do their own thing, let everyone do their best. Is there something I can do to help someone out to make things better, you know, and kind of feeling those promptings? And if I'm not going to do anything about it, then I'm not gonna say anything about it, either.

Kathryn Davis 19:40

Oh, I like that. If I'm not gonna do anything about it, then I'm not going to say anything about it.

Cali Black 19:44

That's been a big one for me.

Kathryn Davis 19:46

And isn't that so Interesting that the prophet has asked us to be peacemakers and you have found inner peace through compassion.

Cali Black 19:58

It's the biggest tool For me, like I cannot overstate how much compassion and leaving out judgment has led me to just feel peace and I hope spread peace in the interactions I have too with friends, hopefully with kids, too. I don't know.

Kathryn Davis 20:17

Well, going back to that talk from Elder Soares that you mentioned, he said this, he said, "The Savior acted compassionately toward all who would come unto him without distinction, and most especially toward those who most needed his help." There are two phrases from that quote that stands out to me, the first one is without distinction. And then those who most needed his help. So what do you think it means to act compassionately in your life without distinction?

Cali Black 20:51

I mean, I think we all know that we label. We put up walls, we have different identities that we have, we do it to ourselves very often as well. I love that when Peter in the book of Acts, gets the revelation that the gospel can go to all of the world, right, all the Gentiles as well as the Jews. And he says that famous phrase that God is no respecter of persons. And for the longest time, I didn't really understand what that meant. But as I've studied that, along with so many other gospel aspects in my life, I'm like, this is for everyone. This is not just for the people in your ward. It's not just for the people that you're friends with, it's for the person online, posting that thing that you don't like at all. That's the trickiest part, right? Like, compassion is for that person. Compassion is for the person that you don't agree with their life choices at all. Compassion is for the person on the other side of the political aisle from where you are. Compassion is for someone who doesn't think organized religion is good, or who has left the church. Compassion is for everyone. And when we open our minds up to realize that that can be super intimidating, because it gets tough to have compassion on someone when you don't like a lot of things about them necessarily.

Kathryn Davis 22:28

It's easier to show compassion on those who are in your immediate circles, who think like you do and have the same belief system and they're in your world, sometimes that can be a little easier to show compassion. But Elder Soares also said that Jesus was able to identify people's needs, even at a distance. And if we truly want to show compassion, it means showing compassion at a distance, with somebody online, with somebody that we don't necessarily talk to, or speak with, or are in our immediate circles. I was just having a conversation with my sister in law a couple days ago, and she listened to a talk "Eyes To See" from Michelle Craig about kind of noticing those around you and she thought, can I expand my circle, can I expand my compassion? and she goes in and gets a Diet Coke at a gas station, where she lives in Indiana every day. And she started having a conversation with the checkout clerk and just learned more of her story and her of her experiences and, and felt compassion for her and invited her to lunch. And I think that's what compassion is, is expanding our circle, right? showing compassion when it's harder. When it's not so easy.

Cali Black 23:55

That's so big. You said that Jesus could notice needs from a distance. And my first thought was, but then he moved closer. Right? Like we see people from a distance. And then we move closer to learn more of their story. If you don't have anyone in your circle who's very different than you, then we've got to do the moving. We've got to go find people that are experiencing a lot of different things. That's on us to move closer to find the needs. And I mean, that's tough. It's tough.

Kathryn Davis 24:28

Cali, isn't that what the Good Samaritan did? Like he was across the street and he saw the need and then what did he do? He moved closer to help alleviate suffering.

Cali Black 24:41

That's perfect. Literally, he had compassion... and that's one of the examples in the Scriptures where compassion is literally the word used. He had compassion. He crossed those cultural boundaries, everything that said that he should not help this man, and he did it anyways because he saw a need. I imagine he had to have realized this person is also a son of God, this person has worth, this person is loved. I feel the prompting, and I'm going to respond to it. And I'm going to help them with what they need right now.

Kathryn Davis 25:18

Have you ever felt intimidated by that? Kelly, like that idea of? What if they don't need my help? Or what if I don't know what to say? Or what if I don't know how to help them? Does that ever stop you from crossing the street?

Cali Black 25:33

All the time. All the time. Unfortunately, it does. Because I know. I've heard the advice that we don't just say, let me know if you need anything. But instead you offer something right? Like you say, let me bring you dinner. Let me watch your kids. But then the flip side of that is that sometimes I get caught in that paralysis where I'm like, Well, I'm not sure what offer them. So then I'm not sure to even... so then I end up not saying anything, Because I don't feel like I have anything specific to offer. I don't want to offend with an offer that I'm making. That's really tough. I, I absolutely have missed service opportunities, because I just have not said anything, because I've overthought what I would even say.

Kathryn Davis 26:18

What do you tell yourself when you missed an opportunity?

Cali Black 26:22

I say, say something, even if it is let me know if you need anything. I'd rather say that, then nothing. Because then that person at least knows that they were thought of and now hopefully I can then follow that up and come up with more sincere things. But I can be a total overthinker. And so if that's going to stop me from doing anything, I'd rather do something. Yeah. And then often actually, that opens the door to understanding a little bit more what they do need at that point. So it's tough, though. It's hard.

Kathryn Davis 26:58

It's so hard. And I try and live by this mantra that I heard from Sister Camilla Kimball so long ago: never suppress a generous thought. right? Because I question I doubt I think, oh, I shouldn't do it. And but I just keep thinking, don't suppress it, just go do it, go say something, go be there. And 99% of the time, I've never been looked on with, "oh why're you here?" or most of the time, it's, I'm learning more about my Savior. And so even if it's just for me, like you said earlier, when I show compassion, he heals a little bit of me in the in the process, right?

Cali Black 27:41

Right. And we at the end of the day, we can't control how other people react to what we do. I'm gonna focus on my journey, which is, I want to do something as sensitively as I can. And hopefully, whatever shortcomings I have, the Savior can can take it from there. Of course, he can take it from there.

Kathryn Davis 28:03

So as you've been on this journey, to understand compassion, and to show compassion to others, and I also love how you've learned to show compassion to yourself, What have you learned about the Savior?

Cali Black 28:19

He is so full of grace and forgiveness. Full of grace and forgiveness. Because every time that I think about the help that I really need, I'm like, What am I what do I really need right now like that? That is a lot. That is a lot. I need a lot of help. And every time the Savior takes me on the next step. He shows me what that next step is. He shows me, it's okay. It's okay to mess up. And here, try again. It's that cliche of my one year old daughter is learning how to walk right now. And every time I have a kid walk, I'm like, now I get whatever it uses this as a gospel analogy, because it's so true that as she's learning to walk, she keeps falling down. And do we ever criticize her for falling down? No! We're cheering her on, we're cheering her on, and the closer and closer she gets, we're cheering even louder. And every time she falls, we're still cheering. And I just love that image, literally, of Heavenly Father and Jesus looking at me, looking at Cali, and cheering me on. Saying, you've got this. And even when I make a mistake, they're saying, you've got this. And when I start judging people and criticizing and I'm not following through on promptings, they're still saying, you've got this. And that I mean, that's overwhelming. I can't even I can't even say what that feels like to really think about. But there's so much love and compassion and forgiveness and joy. And if I'm not feeling those emotions, I've got some work to do. Like, I can take some steps in order to get more in alignment and tap into that those beautiful emotions of love and peace that they're spreading. And it is. It's overwhelming, how much love and understanding and overall compassion, they feel for me.

Kathryn Davis 30:33

I think that's what I'm learning the most through my discipleship and my journey, the more I try to become like him, or the more I try and be a peacemaker, or to show compassion, the more I feel His love and influence in my life. Well, Cali, we love to end every episode with a small and simple challenge. It's a reminder that we can take the spiritual messages that we listen to every week and apply them into our lives. So what is your small and simple challenge for us to take the action to be more compassionate this week?

Cali Black 31:16

Okay, so my small and simple challenge is going to be for this next week, every evening, think about a judgment that you thought of someone else that day. And instead, think about how you could feel compassion for them. And if you just do that, just with one thought, at the end of each day, I have a feeling it's gonna get easier and easier to start switching them in the moment. It's taken me like a few years of doing this, but this has been one of the most powerful, simple little practices is recognizing what was the judgment I thought, or maybe even said, How can I build compassion? and then try it again the next day and try it again the next day.

Kathryn Davis 31:59

That's a powerful tool. And also to remind ourselves that it's taken you a few years. So it might take us some time. But that's that's a beautiful place to start. Cali, seriously, thank you so much for being here.

Cali Black 32:16

Of course. Thank you so much for having me. This has been great.

Kathryn Davis 32:27

One thing that Cali said that will stay with me is that people don't need my judgment. They need my compassion, and the more compassion we can show to others will bring more inner peace. Thank you for being here and hop on over to Instagram at magnify community For more inspiration and conversation. And of course, subscribe and listen to the Magnify podcast wherever you get your shows. See you next week.

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