Though her circumstances were worse than mine by comparison, she loved me just the same.
She held my hand. She prayed for me. She reached out to me in spite of what she was going through herself. She showed love, compassion and empathy. She connected with my emotions, my heart and she had just met me.
She touched me deeply. She has continued to stay touch with me. I am amazed by God’s love flowing through others.
God will give us glimpses of His love at work if we open ourselves to it. Savior this gift. Open this gift. Learn to receive and give this gift.
This gracious gift has shown me how I have messed up from time to time. How I thought I could help fix what was broken, or at least make myself feel better by trying to.
This is not all bad. There is a time and place for having a solution to a person’s problem. When someone is hurting, it’s probably not the best time.
I’ve given advice or tried to share an experience I’ve had that shows I can maybe somehow relate to theirs.
I’ve compared their suffering to others who have it worse, hoping to encourage them. This does not work.
Honestly, I have failed, and I’m guessing you have too at some point along the way.
When others are going through a rough time, they are not sharing their difficulties so we can make things right in their world.
They know we can’t.
They don’t desire to be fixed, given advice, or for us to act like we know what it is like to walk in their shoes. We don’t know and most likely we never will.
You and I know this too.
We get it, because we are human and we’ve probably experienced this on some level in our own life.
“In the face of a difficult conversation, when we see that someone’s hurt or in pain, it’s our instinct as human beings to try to make things better. We want to fix, we want to give advice. But empathy isn’t about fixing, it’s the brave choice to be with someone in their darkness—not to race to turn on the light so we can feel better.
Because in truth, a response can rarely make something better. Connection is what heals.”
– Brenè Brown from her book, Dare To Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts
“Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong. And everything you do must be done with love” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
Often loving others through hard times is showing them empathy.
Empathy is NOT connecting to the experience they are having, but connecting to the emotions they are feeling because of that experience.
It’s awkward and hurtful to others when we are NOT brave enough to be okay with having NO answers, or perfect words, or even the best scripture to share.
Hold their hand.
Say you have no words.
Cry with them.
Admit you do not understand. It’s okay.
Pray with them.
Be with them in the darkness.
People want to know they are not alone.
Connecting with people right where they are is a beautiful gift that we all desire. Let’s learn to give what we hope to receive.
Let’s love, and in loving others well, let’s learn to show empathy.
“Let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions” (1 John 3:18).
I’m challenged more and more to recognize I am meant to love, not fix; to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
God specializes in transforming hearts, revealing truth, and showing the next step. So let Him!
We must learn to relax in the fact that we do not have to have the answers. Not all problems are we meant to speak into. Some we are. God will nudge us when and if it’s time. His word will guide us. The weight of it all rest on God, it’s much too heavy for you and I to carry.
Let’s realize, that even if we think we have an answer, that it might not be the time or place to share and honestly, we may not be the right person to say it.
It’s amazing how empathy and prayer can go a long, long way in making a huge difference in people’s lives.
Let’s learn to love others well. Turning the lights on so we feel better is not the goal.
Real love is uncomfortable and even unbearable at times. “We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us” (1 John 3:16).
Real love ALWAYS gives what others need. What others need will not be what comes easy or comfortable to us. It will stretch us, keeping us dependent on God.
Lord, help us to love by your standards, not ours. In Jesus Name, Amen
So, I’m right here with you. I’m learning to love God’s way and it’s not easy, but it is beautiful.
The more I practice, the more I realize His ways are more freeing than mine. I don’t have to KNOW, I can BE, and that is often what others need the most.
When the time is right, we may be able to share an experience or a story that will bring someone hope and encouragement. This is beautiful and needed when the time is right. Our stories matter. We need each other in so many ways. Everything has its time and place and season (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
So, let’s practice empathy, let’s practice loving well in all of its complexity, and let’s grace one another when we get it all wrong.
In It With You!
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