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Empathy

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The Gift of Empathy
It is the special gift whereby the Spirit provides us with the ability of being uniquely able to get fully in sync with what is going on in the mind of another person. A special sensitivity, caring, and knowing beyond what a human being can do naturally, the ability to literally feel the depression, pain, joy, or confusion of another person (even a total stranger), and thereby being able to support them.

em·pa·thy

the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

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A friend said to me a few weeks ago “Bran, you have the gift of empathy” after I had conveyed to her that my heart hurt for her situation. She had been separated from her husband because of missed and delayed flights. She was returning after just seeing her father go through a scary medical procedure, and desperately wanted to be held by her husband after an emotionally exhaustive trip.

When I read her words, my inside voice said “it’s a gift and a curse.”

I can very easily at the drop of a hat identify with someone’s emotions to the point where I physically feel the pain of what they are going through. My mom has always called me a drama queen as a joke because my emotions can seem so dramatic at times. I can easily switch gears when I have heard or witnessed something that would have an emotional affect on a person. Whether that be to sadness, happiness, joy, stress, pain, worry, etc…. I can easily put myself right there with them. I can instantly identify.

There are times when having this “gift” really is a blessing. It enables me to understand where a person is coming from, what their heart is saying and feeling, and walk with them through their circumstances, whatever that may be.

But there are times when it feels like a curse. Times when I feel weary from so easily identifying with what someone else is going through. Times I wish I didn’t think about them so much, because it pains my heart to do so. Times I wish I could just walk away without giving them or their situation a second thought.  Times I have felt physically drained and I think “this isn’t my battle, this isn’t my problem, this isn’t my life….” There are times it has definately been unwanted.

I have often wished I could be calloused, just to escape it. Even still, these are the times when frienships are either created or solidified… through the thick.

But then I remember that my gift of empathy is a supernatural gift, given for a reason. I am that person that will sit with you while you cry, for as long as you cry, and cry with you so you don’t feel so alone.  I will be angry for you, offer to go to bat for you because I can so easily sense what you feel, and I’m quick to honor that.  I will rejoice with you during your happiest of times and take delight in your achievements, in your milestones, during your most joyous of occasions. It’s these times that empathy is such a blessing and can be a joy to be able to be fully aware and fully present.

 Romans 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

This is something God has equipped me with. I would do well to remember that and use that for HIS glory.

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7 responses »

  1. Brandy,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog to comment. Yes the photo of the Hefleys is a good one, but I need to update it since the ‘baby’ is over a year old already !!

    I really appreciate your thoughts here too. Your ‘gift’ is definitely ‘of the Lord’ when coupled with His discernment and power to not ‘break down’ under the burden. I do believe it is part of ‘carrying one another’s burdens’ (Gal. 6:2) and, by that, somehow spiritually and emotionally ‘lessening their load’.

    Jesus fully experienced the ‘curse’ aspect of it though, by bearing the consequences of the ‘curse’ we chose – for which we are all eternally grateful!

    So, for just a brief lifespan (like a ‘mist’- James 4:14), He allows us the privilege of sharing in His sufferings as He shared in ours (Phil. 3:10) to be made more like Him. It is still our choice though, and I’m glad you’re making the right (but difficult) one =)!!

    Dana

    Reply
  2. Thank you for that view of it Dana, I had never looked at like that before….. sharing in His sufferings in this way. It does put it into a different aspect altogether that way. Thinking I need to start praying for that discernment though. 😉

    A year old already?? That time flew by! I converse with a little on FB every now and then and enjoy their emails and the pictures. 🙂

    Reply
  3. that was very helpful. i have a question though does empathy only effect adults or teenagers and children too because for half a year ive been suffering from raging emotions sad to angry angry to happy happy to excited excited to stress etc. but when i read this it fit everything that ive been feeling could i have empath too….for such a young age

    Reply
  4. What you describe sounds more like mood swings since you didn’t specify that it came with relating to others. Empathy comes from being able to identify with someone else and their emotions or feelings. For example, when someone tells me about something that has happened in their life…say it’s a sad thing…. I feel sadness very deeply for them and can readily identify with a fraction of what they are feeling. Same with happiness. When I hear good news for someone else I’m as happy as if it was my own good news……

    I think everyone has empathy to different degrees. For some it’s more connected to people they are close to. For others, like myself, they can have strong emapthy for just about anyone, whether they know them or not. There are some who hear about a persons situation and don’t have feelings about it one way or the other. My husband for instance is very much like this. Outside of his immediate family, he doesn’t get caught up in experiencing strong emotions one way or another for anyone else. Not that he doesn’t care about people, but his level of empathy isn’t as strong as others… like mine.

    Empathy isn’t a condition, it’s a God given gift that enables us to share in others burdens or happinesses…. what you describe though doesn’t sound like empathy. How old are you? If you are a teenager, it could very well just be your hormones. Empathy is directly related to how you relate to others. It isn’t something that works independantly of others. Does that make sense?

    Reply
    • maybe but i feel what others feel too if im correct it can take over your own emotions too thats why its a curse. But what i want to know is there a way you can control it. Right now my brothers feeling all jittery and i do too kust i dont know

      Reply
      • I would suggest that you talk to a pastor or your youth pastor if you have one about this and see what they have to offer you.

        Did you read Dana’s comment up there? She had some very sage advice about it.

  5. Empathy. My aunt has this down. It has always inspired me. A gift I wish I had. In recent days she and I have fostered a friendship for the first time, which is priceless to me. She’s one of the rare people in my life that I have learned ALOT from. Love her.

    And friendships being created in “the thick” is so true. I don’t have many friends, but thinking about this makes me realize that the friends I have never let go of are the ones where something deeply emotional took place and either fostered or strengthened a friendship. My friendship with you was definitely solidified permanently when you walked with me through my PPD, when I had no one else. You are a treasure, always will be.

    One of my biggest regrets is…..well…..not keeping in touch, you know that one. But I’m livin and learnin. And tryin to…..do better.

    Love you girl.

    Reply

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