How do you do it? I emailed my friend. How do you consistently read beyond my mere words and have the most spot on reply?

Our worlds are different, our lives our different, our personalities are different, but she gets me.

Here’s a reply I did not send to a different friend and situation.

Your response to my situation is factual, but not helpful. Not helpful to me and my heart and my desire to now want to punch you for not getting it.

The difference? Empathy. The gift who says, “though your path may not be my path and your story may not be my story, I can glimpse – at times a bit and others deeply –what it might be like for you”.

Empathy ready

Empathy helps us respond accordingly. We weep with those who weep and we rejoice with those who rejoice.

Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy says, I am so sorry for your lose and your pain. Sympathy is able to grieve and it is needed here in Eden Lost. But sympathy won’t have a starring role in Eden Regained when there are no more sorrows or tears.

The word became flesh and dwelt amongst us. When we respond with empathy to a friend or a situation, we are putting on flesh and dwelling.

Let’s be real for a moment. Some of you reading this aren’t very empathetic and some have their empathy tip a bit too much into sympathy. I’m not saying BE MORE EMPATHETIC, though if the Spirit is prompting you, listen.

My desire is to remind us that we will not always struggle to understand another’s path, their joys, their pains. We will still be limited in Eden Regained, we won’t be able to experience everything. We will not become God. But we will be empathetic without the twisting and distorting of Eden Lost.

We will be able to walk more fully with each other. No twinges of jealousy or frustrations of dinner preparation interrupted as we listen. No, our responses will be pure, unadulterated and flavored with empathy.

Can you recall a recent time you were “gotten?”

 31reminders from EdenAll the posts in the series will be added to this page each day of October. If you would like to receive these reminders in your email inbox, it’s easy! You can subscribe now by entering your email where it says “Jump into the Mess!” I am enjoying the journey together. Amy

Reminders: Lovesatisfactionextravagancefreedombelongingrecreationtruthtrustpuritysubmission and powerunitykindnessblameless, with abandonacceptancecelebrationfaithgenerosityjoypurpose, empathy.

Leave A Comment

  1. Morielle October 23, 2013 at 6:24 am - Reply

    Thank you thank you Amy for talking about the difference between sympathy and empathy. You have opened up a world for me in my understanding of Christ. “Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of people. Because he himself was tested by what he sffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.” (Heb. 2:17-18).

    How could I ever say “yet, not what I want, but what you want.” How could I EVER say that, without Jesus saying it right along with me. And he’s not saying it calmly, either — his voice is filled with distress and agitation and deep grief “even to death”.

    Phew. Clearly this post “got” me. :) I also really want to thank you for the observation that empathy doesn’t have to be about bad stuff, it’s also pure and unadulterated rejoicing at each other’s blessings.

  2. Tammy Ogden October 23, 2013 at 7:05 am - Reply

    I don’t think in heaven we will need empathy but I do like what you have written here about our need for it here on earth.

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      Amy October 25, 2013 at 8:01 am - Reply

      Hey Tammy, it’s totally cool that we (mildly) disagree :). The only reason I think empathy will still be in heaven is because we won’t all be the same. But, I could be wrong (on the empathy part!).

  3. Kristi October 23, 2013 at 7:34 am - Reply

    I love the picture of empathy as “putting on flesh and dwelling.” During a difficult time in my life I had two friends who I don’t doubt love me. One friend always and something “encouraging” to say or a piece of “friendly” advice. What she didn’t know was that what she was saying was actually having the opposite effect. It hurt. It tore down. It suffocated hope. The other friend, in response to my anguished struggle simply said, “I’m sorry. I just don’t understand.” She acknowledged my pain as real and legitimate but also admitted that she had never, herself walked in my shoes. She stuck by me even when she couldn’t understand. I could draw strength and courage from her constant, quiet presence. Thanks so much for this post. I’m grateful as well for your heart of empathy.

    • Morielle October 23, 2013 at 8:44 am - Reply

      Thank you so much Kristi for posting this. As someone who very easily falls into the steps of your first friend, I needed to hear this. I’m praying for God to help me to reject the easy path of encouraging, and instead give me the courage to put on some flesh and dwell. I am so grateful to God that you’ve shared this experience which gave me the words for a prayer I was in much need of praying.

      • Kristi October 23, 2013 at 11:27 am - Reply

        You’re welcome. I am so glad that the fruit of the struggle I mentioned above can be used for God’s glory and your encouragement! I’ve been longing to know that its lessons are for more than just me.

  4. helenschleicher October 23, 2013 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Thanks for writing on this subject….We had a Son who died three years ago and all I can say is, Empathetic is listening, listening and listening. We just wanted to talk about our Son and few people listened. My Mother always said, when you don’t have any words just listen…. However, our Son is now living in heaven and no more pain. Thanks Amy…

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      Amy October 25, 2013 at 8:00 am - Reply

      Helen, thank you for your gracious comment. I think the death of a child has got to rank as one of the most awful paths. I think we can never be reminded too often to listen, listen, listen.

  5. Mark Allman October 23, 2013 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    I do not need someone to tell me things I already know when life is beating the crap out of me. It seems to be an actual cut upon me when someone offers “spiritual encouragement”. The encouragement that means the most is for someone to come beside me and tell me they know that life is hell and they care and they say nothing but they provide their presence which means more than words ever do; to know they are willing to hang with you through the hell and out the other side.

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      Amy October 25, 2013 at 7:58 am - Reply

      I do not need someone to tell me things I already know when life is beating the crap out of me. Amen and amen, Mark!

  6. Tanya Marlow October 25, 2013 at 2:17 pm - Reply

    Aha, great minds think alike indeed!

    That is SUCH an interesting thought that empathy is eternal whereas sympathy is temporal. I shall be rolling that around my brain a little while. Thanks, friend! Here’s to kindred-spiriting!

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      Amy October 28, 2013 at 7:28 am - Reply

      I wish I had a “like” button :)

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