Empathy – A gift given and received.

The heaviness in my spirit is fading some. I know that in a week I will be able to let go of more of the story behind it at the next counseling appointment. In the meantime I need to find a way to live with what has surfaced since to put it back into hiding would just leave the pain of it to surface again later.

shame cant surviveThe question is how I can honour the place of this truth in my life while still honouring the many ways people deal with such truths in their lives. I recognize my brittleness right now, the quickness of triggers in arousing anxiety and feelings of nonsafety. I know anxiety well enough to recognize that all the signals of flight are not present threats but are tied to old signals that are still finding healing.

And so I keep my feelers out, blind fingers in the dark knowing that if there is hope and light in my spirit, it is also there in others, knowing that I am not alone in struggling with things in life, others face similar questions, knowing that no matter how it feels, in the connectedness of life I am not truly alone in facing whatever is in my life. I have just become numb to so many of the signals through so many years of feeling the need to protect my more fragile inner self from damage.

Enter blog posts and comments read that open the whispered Yes! inside to an audible hope. Follow this trail of breadcrumbs, keep walking, stop where there is pain and anger but also a resonance of the questions that have haunted my own life. Listen. Question. Comment. Open up some of my own struggle. Find hope. Find encouragement. Find a feeling that there is a place where others are saying “This is a tough day and I am plugging through it but I believe that there is hope.” Find a place where it is okay to be honest about triggers without feeling you are spoiling the party.

It fits a comment I made in a post in my writing group, a post whose author took the risk to share the less popular notion of distress as part of the faith journey:

“Jesus was unpopular with the church people too especially when he took the time to sit down with “sinners” and even had problems with his followers when he let a woman wash his feet with her tears. We have an amazing God, but doesn’t it say that in our weakness our God is strong. Doesn’t it say to mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. Aren’t we called to know the TRUTH that will set us free? I don’t think that just means God, I think it also means living authentically so that the world can see the Christ of the unsealed tomb.”

This group of people I met in the past week are all in different places of mourning the impact of different religious communities in their life. This group of people have found many different responses to the pain and confusion that they have encountered on that journey. But these people also share joys and empathize with sorrows as we are walking this journey. It is a place where questions are allowed and ideas are given to help think through thing with room for coming up with a different solution.

It gives a space to step past the fear expressed by many. The desire to not be excluded silences the questions and the emotions that make us fully dimensional people. In this group of people I am hearing the expression of those feelings by many I am meeting along the way. I am feeling like I don’t have to tuck a part of myself away in order be included there.

books connect2Is it a perfect place? I am not looking for a perfect place. I am looking for a place where people are being as real as they can be in the limits of the written word. I don’t want to have to read a novel to meet real people.

Perhaps, this place will give me a place to rest part of this open ache as I go on living day to day until I can deal more fully with the parts I am not able to open up right now except to my counselour.

Today, the mindful gift I celebrate is empathy.






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