The Power of Empathy
I went through two broken engagements over a five-year period-same girl, both times. After the second and final break, I went to visit my friend. I was numb and tired of hurting. I felt dead inside. We talked for a while, and when I got up to leave he suggested that we pray together. I prayed first, mumbling to God the best theology I could think of under the circumstances. I then waited for him to begin. Nothing came for a long time. I was about to ask what was wrong when I heard something-a sob. I asked him what was wrong. All he could say was, “It hurts so much.”
“What hurts?” I asked.
“What’s happened to you, stupid!” he said.
Cliff was weeping for me when I could no longer weep for myself! There have been few times in my life when I have felt as comforted. He was a little bit of the Holy Spirit at that moment as he entered into the places in my heart that I could no longer enter. He gave me no lessons to learn nor points to ponder about the human condition. All he gave was himself, and that was enough.
-Ben Patterson, Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989) pp. 43-44
Wisdom for the Caregiver
- “Listening is definitely the most important quality to have as a caregiver. Never tell your friend you don’t want to hear about his or her problems, even if you are sick of them. Sometimes a person just needs to talk through her or his problems.”
- Call and visit often. Encourage the person to talk. Help the person express how she or he feels even if you have heard it before.
- Invite your friend to walk and talk. Or invite him or her to a specific event. Suggest things you can do together rather than generally asking if he or she wants to do something.