The next time you feel like putting someone in their place, put yourself in their place instead. (Anonymous)
As I interact with the residents here at New Beginnings, listening to their problems, concerns, and resentments, along with their needs for right now and hopes for the future, I am reminded that I need empathy. I need to understand their responses to circumstances they are facing. I know (but knowing is not empathy) that past hurts influence reactions to present situations. I know that if we are believers, we are not all growing in the same way at the same time, but we are all growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. I know that the bottom line is that I need to feel for the other person and listen.
Though the word empathy does not appear in the Bible, the Scriptures do refer indirectly to the quality of empathy:
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15)
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the laws of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
We need to give each other space to grow, using empathy, bearing with one another. Thankfully as Christians we don’t have to do this on our own, in our own ability, because we have the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.
Karen O'Leary is an Assistant Home Manager at New Beginnings. She has her BA in Bible Theology and her Masters of Divinity. She has 8-years of experience as a Social Director at a non-profit organization helping those in crisis with financial assistance, brief supportive counseling, and being a spiritual presence in their time of need. In her free time Karen enjoys reading, cooking and traveling.