I’ve Been There

We all have scars, those places where wounds occurred. Some are from accidents and injuries, some from all manner of surgeries. Many are the kinds that are invisible-emotional scars from pain that can’t be seen but most certainly leaves a mark. These are the scars from health struggles and scares, from hurtful things people have said or done, from broken dreams or broken relationships, and from the loss of a job or the loss of one you love.

Yet the thing about scars is that they point to hope on the other side. With time, with good friends at our side, sometimes a lot of work, and with God’s grace, the wounds close, healing comes, and pain subsides.

Each of our scars tells a story, and those stories can be used by God to help others in their places of pain. We are called to be a people who rejoice when others rejoice and mourn when others mourn (1 Cor. 12:26; Rom. 12:15). That sharing of the highs and lows is what it means to be a community of compassion, a people of empathy.

Brene Brown argues that from a psychological perspective, “with” is what separates empathy from sympathy. Sympathy is feeling “for” another, and that’s better than feeling nothing at all, but sympathy can maintain its distance. Empathy, on the other hand, is feeling “with.” Empathy is the choice to connect some feeling or experience in you to the feeling or experience of another.

You may not have experienced another’s exact struggle, but you know what it is to struggle, and you choose to tap into your struggle as a way to connect with another’s struggle. You try to see from the vantage point of another. In the process, you create space for God to work, because “the God of all comfort, …comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor. 1:4).

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