God has some unique ways, tailored for the person, to answer prayer. In my case, I have a hard time with empathy or sympathy. Over the years I have put up a wall, brick by brick. Now it’s being weakened by a steady chipping away.
I thought that God would break it down like the Kool-Aid Man. Instead, he’s sending people into my path to teach me.
GriefShare, a room full of hurting people, talking about their loss(es). I can usually identify with them all, except the widowers, though I wonder about it and fear the eventuality. When my friends tell a story about how they’re still dealing with the pain, a large chunk gets knocked off that wall.
The lonely kid that just wanted someone to talk to deciding to walk up to me, one of my ‘kids’, and her boyfriend. He reminded me of my own loneliness. More rock is chipped away.
A friend’s mom battling cancer, it was looking bad. I listened to him, I hurt for him. I remembered my mom’s bout with colon cancer. The hammer falls again.
A guy at work whose world falls apart in front of my eyes. His situation reminds me of the helplessness and anxiety I went through after my godson. Then the money is slowly drawn out of their bank account until he had only $110 left, and can’t go home.
Divorce looks imminent. My parents went through a bad divorce when I was a kid. Is that a hole in the wall now?
The friend whose mom is in a bad way had to put his dad in an assisted-living facility. At work he was unusually quiet. I was going to ask how he was doing, but got the sense that I should be quiet and reach out physically, so I put a comforting hand on his shoulder and met his eyes as I passed by.
I’m intersecting with a lot more hurting people lately, these were just a few. All I know to do in these situations is to listen, and pray. During these times, I notice that God is bringing parts of my own painful past to mind. The relevant moments where I can identify with them, it’s building something on the other side of the wall.
Growing empathy and this verse from Matthew 9:36, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
The Good From The Bad
Two good things came out of this: first, my friend’s mom got out of the hospital and is now in assisted-living with her husband. Second, an act of grace for the guy at work with no place to go.
Under my nose, the crew on my shift gathered money so he could stay at a hotel that weekend. I heard about it when he walked up, asking me if I knew anything about it.
No, but I could see the ray of hope in his eyes as he went from person to person, thanking them. I looked at another friend, saying, “That’s grace.”
I asked another guy whose idea was it was.
“Because I’m proud of you guys.” My heart was literally full and lifted by the demonstration of love.
He got a sense from God to do it. He left his machines with another, immediately setting off on his mission. All but one person gave. That was immediate obedience, Pastor Rod would be proud.
The wall is still up, but it’s weaker, and the chisels are still at work. In time…BOOM.