The incredible vanishing act

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.

Do not say to your neighbour,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you.

– Proverbs 3:27-28

Do you ever struggle to give enough to others while trying to take care of yourself?

I used to find it easier to offer my time and love and energy to people. Increasingly, it has become more of an effort, particularly when my own life started to unravel. Perhaps I was spreading myself too thin or perhaps I needed to receive some energy and empathy from others.

The danger of offering empathy and support to loved ones is that they start to expect it from you every time they hit a wall. And while I don’t want to let them down, I find that it’s exhausting at times. Especially when the unexpected happened in my own life and I found myself in need of support too.

Sadly, a show of vulnerability is when many people will disappear. Prayers and well wishes may be widely on offer in our churches, but empathy not so much.

A kind word costs a moment on the lips, but empathy requires our heart and soul too. And that’s where many will draw their line. “I don’t have enough time.” “I’m not a good listener.” “That’s the pastor’s / reverend’s / minister’s job”.

The Lord urges us not to withhold good where we can offer it and many of us have the capacity to offer empathy if only we would try. We have the right ingredients – a caring heart, a desire to encourage and uplift others and the experience of being cared for and loved by our own Father. We have ears to listen and the same amount of time in the day as everyone else around us.

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one – Mother Teresa

Let’s not withhold the extra effort we can give to our neighbours. Let’s donate some time and energy to others who need it, so they can be replenished and do the same for others. Let’s share the burden between us, rather than focus only on our own load.

Just ten minutes of empathy can make a difference to someone’s life. It can even be the difference between life and death. (Click to tweet)

When was the last time you offered empathy and offered to walk partway with someone through their pain for ten minutes? Is the Lord nudging your heart to someone in particular?

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2 thoughts on “The incredible vanishing act

  1. rmwk100 March 18, 2014 at 6:15 pm Reply

    Super blog – I think a lot about my boundaries, limits and limitations as well. Offering the amount of empathy you actually feel, with the amount of energy you have available, is a tremendous skill, and takes a huge amount of self-awareness and honesty – with yourself, with God and with others. I’d say that learning to do this takes a whole lifetime. XXXXXX

    • vulnerablechristian March 18, 2014 at 6:53 pm Reply

      I agree – it’s a lifelong process! And it requires good friends who can understand and respect your limits 🙂

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