I meet many people through work and in my community of church, friends and family, and I often hear testimonies of what folks have endured. These are the kind that tug at your spirit, the kind you don’t easily forget because you know that they are true. They tell of tragedy or other life experiences that have required more than a little faith and a healthy dose of courage.
When someone bears their soul, there is a voice inside your head that says, “I can’t imagine going through that…”
I’ve heard it said that if you were to put down your burdens and pick up another’s for a day, you will gladly put theirs down and pick your own up again. It’s not that yours are not difficult. It’s just that yours are, well, yours. You know them. You know how to balance your concerns and what you have to do tend to them. Overwhelming as they sometimes are, they belong to you.
We all have a story, and God provides each of us uniquely with what we need to triumph in it.
My point is that everyone — everyone — carries with them something that burdens their heart. We all grieve someone, miss someone, feel insufficient, require a resource, are praying for healing, a mending, a bonding of relationship. We all have people we love and care about who need a breakthrough of some sort or another.
Although the names and degrees of what we must endure may vary, at our core we all are the same.
Empathy is our ability to feel another’s pain, to understand their plight, to have sensitivity to their feelings and their needs. It’s the glue that fills in the gap between our life situations and theirs, and pulls us close in spirit. Though we may not have the words to say, we can bond with someone even in silence, letting them know we understand.
To the contrary, when someone lacks empathy, they are disengaged, often selfish, and insensitive. Our hurts are magnified when people that we think should care for us, offer nothing but their thinly veiled dismissal of our plight. Not the best people to count on when the chips are down.
Sometimes, we are only meant to bear witness to someone’s needs, to hear their heart, to pray for them. Other times, if it is within our means and relationship to do more, God will lead us as to what that is.
I have come to understand on my own journey, that God shows up through people. Just when I have needed it most, someone will come upon my path armed with the perfect word or wisdom to keep me putting that one foot after the next. A blessing will come at just that moment when despair is about to overtake me. Sometimes, just a hug will infuse me with the strength to get through a rough day.
We don’t have to have lost a job, been through a divorce, have a parent or loved one with cancer, or received a foreclosure notice to know what it feels like to be afraid or have anxiety. We can all relate to fear. Our hearts all beat the same
Be the kind of person who takes the time, makes the call, lends an ear and an expression of empathetic love for another. Carry your faith with you wherever you go so that you can share it with someone who may be running low on theirs.
Let others know that God is good, that He has not left them nor forsaken them, but that He is working out their situation. Share the unconditionality of His love, by being the hands and feet that we are created to be on this earth.
In short, care. Stand in the gap. Be who you would want another to be for you if the shoe was on the other foot.
We all have one. What part can you play in someone’s story today?