Category Archives: Empathy

Your shield of love

It is so amazing to me that as we delve into a greater understanding and knowledge of another’s past slowly a shield of love is built around our hearts.  This is no ordinary shield, but seems to work in a very special way.

Any unkindness, anger, or hatred aimed at this shield by the other is transformed into love through understanding their past before being repelled back towards them, while any love or kindness given by the other is doubled as it freely passes and is returned back to them.

Sweet Lord please fill us with understanding, empathy, compassion and love for our neighbors so that we might be covered with Your Shield of Love!

 

Regrets…

Some believe that Jesus told Judas Iscariot to betray him.

In the Gospel of Judas, Jesus said, “But you will exceed all of them.  For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.”

If this is the case, then Judas acted out of obedience and faith in Jesus and he was given the strength to follow through with Jesus’ request.  Imagine for a moment being Judas once things had been set in motion and he was outside the loving gaze and light of Jesus.  Imagine the torture and suffering he put himself through questioning his actions, wondering if he had acted within the will of God or made a mistake.  Imagine the tortured thoughts he experienced as he second guessed his actions under the criticism and hatred of those who had once called him brother, his fellow disciples.

It is so hard to keep our hearts and our heads clear and open to God’s message, and then once we are bogged down with fear of a mistake or acting selfishly rather than within His will, we pull yet further away from Him and our faith is so quickly drained from us.

I think it is in these moments of fear that we have to breath deep, and know our faith is being tested.  The moment our faith begins draining from us, is moment that we must hold tight to it and thank God for our current suffering, questioning and lack of confidence in our actions or words.  We must continue to reflect even more on His perfect plan and remember that sometimes acting within His will might not be comfortable.  If we have stepped off the path, there is a lesson within each step and we must remember that He loves us so much that He will not let us stray far before He begins nudging us back on track.

I said something a few days ago that I so deeply regret, that I can now actually appreciate why some people take a vow of silence.  I am not sure if I was on track or off track with what I said, but even through my regret I am trying very hard to be thankful for experiencing these feelings of regret, for the increase in my desire to be pleasing to God (through silence if necessary) and for yet another opportunity to empathize with Judas.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for everything.

Praying for Judas…

I love the song The Hammer Holds by Bebo Norman.

When I first heard this song about a year ago I thought of Judas Iscariot.  I thought of the love he must have felt for Jesus when he first met Him.  I thought of how fervently he wanted to follow Him, to be good and to care for and help the poor.  I thought of the dreams he must have had for himself as a follower, a disciple and a friend of Jesus.  He possibly imagined that God was shaping him into a perfect piece of art that would be displayed for all to see.  Then I imagined his pain, his sorrow, his despair and possibly the numbness he felt when he realized that God’s plan was not for him to be displayed as a perfect piece of art, but instead God’s plan was for him to betray Jesus, betray the blood of a guiltless man.  When I thought of this I cried and cried and cried for this man whom it would have been better for if he had not been born (Matthew 26:24).

Tonight I saw that a friend had taken the quiz, Which one of Jesus’s disciples are you? so I decided to take it too.  Guess which disciple I am?  Judas Iscariot.

WOW… I was shocked and so sad that this computer quiz calculated that if I had been there 2000 years ago and been blessed beyond measure to be chosen by Him as one of His 12 disciples, I would have been His betrayer.  I would not have been sleeping in the garden as He prayed, but instead would have been wide awake leading those blind with hatred and envy to Him, my Love.  It would have been me…

Ever since empathizing with Judas Iscariot through Bebo Norman’s song, I have prayed that Judas Iscariot only found the courage and strength to betray Jesus purely out of obedience to Jesus and faith in Jesus.  I still pray for this to be true, and my hope lies in the fact that so many things are upside down and turned around from what they seem, our treasure lies not in the bank but in our love, the first shall be last and the last shall be first, the veil is still drawn, the truth is still hidden, but someday all will be revealed… and until then I am praying for Judas.

The Festival of Lights!

My new sister-in-law is coming to celebrate Thanksgiving with us.  I spoke with her the other night to talk about the menu that weekend and at the end of the conversation she told me that Hanukkah begins the Wednesday before Thanksgiving this year.  She said she has never celebrated Hanukkah without a menorah and wondered if it would be okay for her to bring it.

A few years ago I would have said yes, but I would have completely missed out on the excitement and joy of this experience.

Jesus was Jewish!  He celebrated the Festival of Lights every year of His short life.  Can you imagine celebrating the Festival of Lights with the Light of the World standing by your side?

Just thinking about it… takes. my. breath. away.

I am so thankful to have my eyes open enough at the moment to see what a blessing it will be to celebrate the Festival of Lights in our home with my sweet new sister.

Thank You my Light, my Love, my sweet Jesus!

He’s My Son!

I recently heard this song for the first time, He’s My Son by Mark Schultz.  I didn’t listen to all of the words the first few times.  I only paid attention to the words of the refrain, “He’s My Son”.  Each time I heard it I thought how beautiful it was that someone had written a song from God’s point of view leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus.

I finally listened to the words of the whole song and realized that it was written from the point of view of a father with a sick child crying out to God for help.  It is a beautiful song, but each time I hear it I always imagine how God must have cried out to us in the hours leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion.

Can you hear Me?
Can you see Him?
Please don’t leave Him.
He is not just anyone, He is My Son!

Friday I heard this beautiful song again. A strong desire came into my heart to write a version giving us a tiny glimpse of the painful cries our Holy Father made into our deaf ears as He went through the suffering of watching His Son die.

He’s My Son by Mark Schultz
(original lyrics)

The re-written Lyrics are in bold below.  Please see the link above for all of the original lyrics by Mark Schultz.

Looking down from on high tonight,
Dreading the moment He sets things right.
See He is a boy that needs your love.
I’ve done all that I can do from above.
He now knows His fate,
To shoulder your sin and hate
Tonight as He prays,
He asks, how to show you the way.
And He tries
Not to cry
As the tears fill His eyes.

Can You hear Me?
Am I getting through tonight?
Can you see Him?
Can you pray for Him this night?
If You can hear Me
Please send Him all your love.
See, He’s not just anyone, He’s My Son.

Every night I watch Him sleep,
Amazed at the man He’s grown to be
I send Him strength and see Him through.
Open your eyes, oh how He loves you!
He will never grow old,
Yet lives life without fear
What would you be
If He’d never come here?
His time grows near,
He prays for you,
Let Him know that you’re there.

Can you hear Me?
Am I getting through tonight?
Can you see Him?
Can you pray for Him this night?
If you can hear Me
Please send Him all your love.
See, He’s not just anyone, He’s My Son.

Can You hear me?
Am I getting through tonight?
Can You see Him?
Can you pray for Him this night?
If You can hear me
Please send Him all your love.
See, He’s not just anyone.

Can you hear Me?
Can you see Him?
Please don’t leave Him,
He’s My Son.
_________

Thank you Mark Schultz for this beautiful song that has opened my eyes just a little bit more!

Grace in disguise?

It was a dark and stormy evening.  A young man who had recently received his license was on his way home from picking someone up.  As he approached a red light, he pumped the brakes, they locked and the car continued right through the light.

There was a collision, people were hurt, a young child in another car was killed.

The young man driving was my grandfather.

I know he thought of this child often.  I know he carried the pain of having caused the death of this child for the rest of his life. As I think back to discussions and time I spent with my grandfather, I can remember the painful expression I would see cross his face if we ever heard about or discussed any type of car accident.  I remember seeing him wince as if he was physically in pain when we discussed a news article about all of the fatal car accidents caused by faulty tires back in 2000.

I think this moment drove him to spend the rest of his life seeking to empathize with those who had recently lost a loved one in death through his work as a funeral director. He sought to feel their pain, he hoped to feel what the family of that young child felt, and he searched for forgiveness by easing the pain of others as they faced the death of a loved one.

I now wonder if God graced my grandfather with an end to his search just before he died?

My young cousin, his granddaughter, was killed in a car accident on a dark and stormy evening about a year before my grandfather died. After his years of searching and empathizing with others, he finally felt what it was like for the family of that young child who had died so many years ago. He finally felt what it was like to look into the face of the mother of that child as he looked into the face of his own daughter as she wept for her child.

My sweet young cousin was the only one who was ready to go home.  Maybe her death was a gift of grace to our grandfather?

God thank you for loving both of them so much!

Be Thou Our Vision

Have you seen or heard this quote?

The way people treat you is a statement about who they are as a human being.  It’s not a statement about you.

I saw this about a week ago and it didn’t sit right with me.

Have you ever been mean to someone or snapped at someone?  I know I have done this.  I have done it to strangers on the street as well as the ones I love the most.  I know this isn’t right, and I am not condoning my actions but I am questioning whether these actions should stamp me as a mean or angry human being?

These moments of anger thrown at another are usually tied back to something else that is bothering me, something that is making me unhappy, uncomfortable.  These moments usually mean I have had a rough moment, day, week or month.  When I do this it means I have a lot of other things to work on personally, but I don’t think these moments should label me or anyone else as a certain type human being.

On the flip side, have you ever woken up so joyful and full of thanksgiving and gratitude that you smiled and showed extra kindness to everyone you met that day?  I have had days like this too, and these are great days, but do these actions label me as a wonderful and kind human being?  How could they when I have also had days full of anger and impatience with everyone?

I think these actions, regardless of which side, should label me as a human being having a certain type of moment, not as a certain type of human being.

I think changing a few words in this quote would promote a lot more empathy and compassion.

The way people treat you is a statement about what they are going through.  It’s not a statement about you.

Jesus please help us to remember that it is rarely about us and please help us to see others through Your eyes… Be Thou Our Vision!

Expand, expand, expand…

Circles are everywhere.  Our lives are filled with both figurative and physical circles.  We see them in nature, we see them in actions and re-actions and we experience them physically around tables, in meetings, and during circle time as children.

We include people when we are willing to expand our circles, but we can just as easily exclude others by refusing to expand our circle for new arrivals.

My sister wrote a blog that I loved last year, Is it a pie or a triangle?.  The conversation we had regarding this blog stands out clearly in my mind as a moment in my life when I finally started to scratch the surface in my personal understanding of Jesus and what He did for me.

Ever since this conversation, I have thought of God as a large circle that we are all held within.  I then picture all of us as small circles within the God’s large circle.  Some of our circles are bigger and some of our circles are smaller and some of them overlap.  The bigger ones represent those who have accepted or included more people, and the smaller ones have accepted or included fewer people.

I don’t think heaven or paradise is possible without everyone and unfortunately we are the ones imposing limitations and building walls within God’s beautiful, all-inclusive circle by excluding others.

Pray for everyone, try to empathize with everyone…
Empathy will lead to forgiveness, and forgiveness will lead to love.

OUR best life doesn’t work unless everyone is included!

I pray and dream for OUR best life for everyone, everyday!  I hope you do too… together we can expand our circles!

Stop counting!

A friend of mine was talking to me today about a couple that she knows.  She was telling me how their relationship didn’t seem fair and how one person in the couple appeared to do 90% of the work.

I have been thinking about it some more and obviously I don’t know their whole story, but from the outside it appears that the beauty of their relationship lies in the fact that the two involved are not counting.

I think once you stop counting, the percentages can’t be calculated and they don’t matter anyway.  What matters is the teamwork, knowing you have a teammate who has your back and wants to support you and love you.

Jesus please help us to stop counting, work together, and remember that we all have unique gifts to contribute which can’t be quantified anyway!

When are we awake?

I am not sure if you hear a lot about waking up or about the next great awakening, but I have heard quite a bit about it in some of the documentaries I have watched in the last few months.

When I talk about awake, I am talking about being consciously aware of our ego and critically questioning our personal actions and whether these actions are being driven by our egos.  Then making an effort to minimize our ego’s influence over our actions.

The first book I read about this was, A New Earth: Awakening to  Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle.  I loved this book and I still consider it one of the first books of my own personal journey, but as I continue down my path I still question am I going the right way, am I waking up, will I ever be fully awake?  For me, I think it is a daily effort to wake up.  I still get caught up in worries about the future, regrets of the past and feelings, choices and actions driven by my ego.

One thing I have noticed though is that I feel more awake and more alive on days that I celebrate the joys and successes of others.  A news story was mentioned on my radio station the other day that helped me more clearly define a day when I am feeling more awake, Facebook Envy:  How Cruising can Kill Self Esteem by Wendy Sachs.

This story talks about how cruising Facebook can kill your self esteem when everyones life appears to be better, more fun, more exciting than yours.

This made me pay a little closer attention to my own activity on Facebook and I do think that I am more awake on days when I “Like” and comment on my friends photos, comments, shares.   Choosing to “Like” my friends activities is my quiet and small way to celebrate and be excited for them and the joys in their lives.

I am not sure when we will all wake up, but since so many of us are now connecting on Facebook, let’s use it as a platform to celebrate each other, support each, and love each other rather than a platform for comparison which will only plant the seeds of envy in our own heart.

James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

Jesus please help me to wake up a little more every day so that someday I can fully share in the celebrations and joys of all of my brothers and sisters throughout the world!