This week we moved from Sympathy with Syrians to Empathy.
Brene Brown describes it well.
She explains that sympathy is disconnective–where you feel bad/sorry for someone else’s situation.
Whereas empathy is connective, where you sit where the other person is sitting, get in touch with whatever they are feeling and communicate about it.
Brene Brown says that empathetic responses to start with at least…Sympathy is saying: I’m sorry your kid is in trouble, at least the other one gets straight As. Its saying: I’m sorry you are too fragile to leave your house, at least your still alive
God is an empathetic God, sending Jesus to be with us and feel with us, instead of just distantly feeling sorry for us (which is why the clockmaker version of God who sets everything up and never touches us again doesn’t work for me)
We recently went from feeling sad about Syria, to empathizing with parents who feel scared enough to put their toddlers on a boat with the chance of drowning. When, as some people put it, “humanity washed on shore.”
In Hebrews 11, God calls us to be in empathy with refugees, because we are all refugees sharing upon God’s earth. “” All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. people who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own”
We are called to be in empathy from one another, in church, to share each other and be vulnerable with one another. (another good read on this is The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer)