I love listening to podcasts, videos, presentations when people share on the topic of empathy. It’s one of those topics for me which always leaves me with solid takeaways, gentle reminders, and awe-inspiring ways I want to continue to become more empathetic towards others. During a few of our morning staff prayer times recently, we have been watching a video series called “Every Good Gift” by Ann Voskamp. This morning we watched “Being Generous with your Empathy”. After listening to it, I was struck once again with reminders of the power and impact that true, authentic, Christ-like empathy can have on others.
In this video, Ann shared the “ministry of empathy is often simply and powerfully the gift of ‘with-ness’, the gift of presence”. She went on to say, “empathy is like crawling into someone else’s life, sitting in their life with deep humility, and asking, what if that were me?” She continued saying, “empathy does not make people into projects, but humbly partners with people from a posture of solidarity”.
Woah. That’s some powerful thoughts right there. How often are we “too busy” to take the time to sit and listen to a loved one share a story weighing on them from their day? How many times are we thinking about our response or the next thing we want to say to someone rather than being truly present and listening to their words to hear their heart and their story? How often do we think, oh no, do I really have to listen to this same old story again?
Empathy is not always easy. It may not always come naturally. It may be the last thing we want to think about when we have reached our limit with someone, or don’t feel like we have the patience it takes to sit in someone’s life with them time and time again. But then I remember, Christ is the perfect witness and model for us to learn true, authentic, awe-inspiring empathy from. In a multitude of examples from scripture, Christ was moved with compassion for His people. He sat with, was present to, and took on a posture of solidarity to say, I am with you, always.
Ann ended her video session with some takeaway reflection questions, and I want to end here by challenging you to ponder a few of them as well.
How are you other-centered instead of self-centered?
What is one way that God is asking you to be moved with compassion this week?
What if we responded to everyone by first asking, what if it were me?