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Friday, January 22, 2016

Empathy

I never should have said I was sad.  It just throws everybody in my life off.  My anger and rage people can handle.  Maybe everybody is just used to it at this point.  I will often exclaim that I am angry when I'm actually sad, because the response is more what I need.  But yesterday I just put it out there.  I was sad.  And everybody freaked out.

Here's the thing.  I am really glad that my heart hurts for people.  I am even glad that it hurts deeply.  Today I read from Psalm 31:  

"Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief" (Psalm 31:9, NIV).

"I have become like broken pottery" (Psalm 31:12b, NIV).

I feel like this sometimes.  I feel like this, right now.  The feeling sort of stinks, but it propels me to action.  That's good.  Very good.

Not too long ago, a friend of mine wrote a post about compassion fatigue.  I may have linked it somewhere.  It was a concept I had never considered.  These were some of her words,

"We are grieving and distressed and horrified together, and all of this emotion is our collective catharsis.  Soon we will have had enough of thinking about it and we will play a subtle trick on ourselves.  We will believe that our thinking and feeling was actually doing something." -Sharon Autenrieth

Lately, I feel as if I see crises all around me.  Some of them are widespread, affecting many people (the refugee crisis, the Flint water crisis).  Others are a matter of personal trauma and disaster affecting just one person or one family (I know people who have lost parents, children, and homes, just this week).  It feels overwhelming.

Something that hit me especially hard, yesterday, was my incapability to be close enough to do anything significant for many of the people I know who are hurting.  I know people all over the country (and beyond).  As someone who thrives on meeting needs, it is almost crushing when I feel as if my hands are tied (ironically, I also used this phrase in a post last week).

I am hesitant to post any of this, at all, because I feel as if many of the people who were concerned about my sadness will breathe a sigh of relief that it isn't anything personal.  No.  It's just me being extremely upset that people are hurting... and freezing... and dying... on the streets.  No big deal.

I was reading about Abram and Sarai, this morning, and I felt a little jealous (how funny is that).  I didn't feel jealous about the leaving your home part and traveling to unknown places.  I've done that.  It's the primary reason why my sphere of influence is so widespread.  What I felt jealous about was that when God called Abram and Sarai away from their home, they got to take all of "the people they had acquired" (see Gen. 12:5) with them.

I miss my people.  I hate not being close enough to take care of them.  It's OK for me to be sad about that.

Romans 1:9-13a, "God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you but have been prevented from doing so..." (NIV).

But... someday...

L.

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