Learning to Empathize

Learning to Empathize

Are you journaling?  Maybe you’re keeping a log somewhere of your feelings and activities during the quarantine.  I will admit, I haven’t been keeping any regular record of this year’s events.  But I thought I would at least use this space to write about a few things I hope I don’t forget after things go back to “normal.”

We open up our church bulletins and read the words (usually at the end of our prayer list) “shut-ins.” I’m ashamed that there have been many times I have glanced right over this part of the document.  Maybe because I think I have the list memorized and I reassure myself, thinking that I’ll pray for them.  But often, it has been because I just really didn’t understand.

I’m not claiming to know how a person who is homebound feels.  After all, over the past few weeks, I’ve still had my sweet wife and children to enjoy.  But, perhaps I’m better equipped in some ways to empathize with and minister to those who have, even long before all this, been socially isolated, lonely, and in need.

Now, when I hear that someone is “shut-in” because their immune system won’t allow them to be near others, or they simply lack the strength to get out, I hope I’ll do more than pray.  I hope I’ll visit if that’s an option or call them and talk for as long as they need to talk.  Maybe I’ll invite them to a Zoom meeting where they can see and hear a few friends laugh and visit.  I want to do those things because the emptiness caused by being physically separated from friends and family isn’t something I’ll soon forget.

So, yes, reach out to each other now, as we are ALL shut-ins in some sense.  But I, for one, hope that I always remember this feeling and that I will be a better friend to those who find themselves missing the warmth of a friendly smile, a conversation, or a hug around the neck. (Luke 6:31)


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