Sunday, August 24, 2014
Empathy is a Choice
So often people have said "I just don't know what to say..." And through the last 4 years, I have time and time again tried to be a teacher on this subject... The subject of what to say - or not to say - to someone who is grieving. Not for my benefit - I've already suffered the pain by the time I bring it up - it's more for the benefit of you and the people who may need you in the future.
The best words for my heartache have simply been "Rachel Alice Aube matters to me." whether you say it in words or show it in deeds, that is the one thing you can say in a million ways that could never be wrong. If you say the opposite, by either avoiding me, throwing her name or her existence around in order to make a point or hurt me, or acting like she never existed at all... you can be sure of two things... I will be hurt and even when I get over it, I won't forget it.
If you are reading this at this far into my journey, most likely you are one who truly cares. Thank you. If you have met me in my darkest hour and allowed me to think, feel, and be just where I am... thank you. (you can be sure I have NOT forgotten that either!!!) If you have received correction from me where grief and pain are concerned and you didn't walk away or tell me I have no right telling you what you should be doing... thank you. If you have prayed for me instead of judging me and sending me emails telling me my perspective was wrong... thank you. If you have found yourself in tears as I have shared my struggles... found yourself smiling when I have had victory over a hard day... or found yourself humbled before God as you empathize with my sorrow or pain... thank you...
I love this short video of empathy versus sympathy - As I watch it, I find myself nodding and wishing everyone could truly 'get' this. This has truly been like salt in my wound over and over again as I have walked this hard road. The fact is, God made us to need people! And then He calls his people to comfort others and to help carry their burdens. Yet somehow, even the most devoted followers of Christ will deceive themselves into believing that He doesn't want us to do that if it's uncomfortable or unfamiliar - that 'all we can do is pray'... that He doesn't want us to be brought down by someone else's hardship...
This video is a good reminder for me too... to remember that when someone is going through something hard, to not assume that 'they want their space' and then let them feel alone. To always reach out, even when I'm at a loss for words or actions... to just say I love you and I'm here. I don't have the answers, I don't know how you feel, but I am here.
Take a couple minutes and watch this with an open heart and ask God who He wants you to reach out to right now.... who does He want you to climb down in the pit with for a minute or two just so they don't feel so alone? And when that person comes to mind, I challenge you to make a move - any move - to really show empathy and help carry their burden. You have no idea how much you can bless someone with a simple gesture of love!
And to everyone who has taken that minute to reach out to me since August 2010... THANK YOU!! Each and every time has blessed my heart and helped me to keep on walking, putting one foot in front of the other, as I have stumbled along on this heartbreaking journey of love, joy, sorrow and pain.... any act of empathy, even if it's not "right" is perfect and God always uses it to encourage me and give me hope. Thank you for stepping out of your comfort zone for me.
So, here is the video....
"empathy is choice - and it's a vulnerable choice because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling.... rarely does an empathetic sentence *ever* start with 'at least'..."