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.
For additional caregiving advice, refer to the following categories on this website: “Caregiving Basics.”
The above advice is from The Compassionate Congregation, pages 188-190.