I prayed to have compassion, because it is a skill that I lack. (Seriously, ask my husband. He may be polite & I am more forthright with him, but I have a distinct lack of compassion when I feel that the choices people make put them in their situation.)
I prayed to have compassion and suddenly difficulties arose in my life.
I never understood the loneliness felt by stay-at-home moms and at-home workers, until I was working at home and my husband was working outside the home. You see, for the first two years we were married, I was a student & as an introvert, I got enough "people time" that I was always grateful for alone time. Then for our third year of marriage, I was substituting, volunteering, and preparing to move to another country for ministry. Again, my need to be around people was always met. On our foreign mission field during our fourth year of marriage, I had generous amounts of quality time with my spouse, and spent my days in language classes and office work. I would feel "peopled-out" and enjoy my introvert time, content that I was a strong introvert, a 10/10 on the Myers-Briggs introversion-extroversion scale.
When we moved to Cactus, for the first month and a half we were here, my husband was at home with me all the time, as we settled in and started our volunteer work. "Alone time" meant that I was in one room and he was in another. Then, my husband went off to work for 8-10 hours a day. Then I realized that my need to be around people had always been met, leaving me to feel like the introvert of introverts. I was lonely. I felt isolated, because we were in a new place and so many of the people I knew were working during the day. I was alone, and then I began to understand the stories my friends & family members told me of feeling isolated & trapped at home, or of watching mindless tv shows just to have a semblance of human interaction.
I never understood scarcity until my pipes froze multiple times in our first winter in Cactus. Suddenly, I had no water, or limited water. I would fill bowls with water from the tub to wash dishes. It was inconvenient, but functional.
I didn't expect, when I prayed for compassion, that I would face difficulties that would allow me a greater sympathy with others. But maybe, if God just gave me compassion, I would not have valued it as much. Instead, God gave me empathy through shared experiences that allowed me to experience the compassion I so desperately wanted.