Empathy is defined as “the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing ofthe feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” The word comes from the Greek word empátheia.
I received a letter from Colorado’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that my license plates were ready to pick up and what documents I needed to bring. Per the letter’s instructions, I called and left a message with Eddie on which branch to send the plates for me to pick up. But after two days I still had no response. So I headed to the central office hoping my plates would be there. After waiting for my number to be called, I approached the woman behind the desk and gave her my Oregon plate, registration and proof of insurance. She told me I needed a form that validated a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) inspection. I explained that the letter said nothing of this. But she didn’t care. Nor would she tell me if the plates were there.
Muttering all the way to the parking garage, I called to let me wife know how messed up the system was. I knew I needed to have a positive attitude but my mind was in full battle mode. Fortunately there was an auto dealership nearby and though it was not their policy, Andrew, (at no cost), inspected my car, typed in the information and printed it out for me. He understood my frustration and I felt better.
When I returned to the DMV I expected to wait yet surprisingly my number was immediately called. This time I was assigned to a different woman. Instead of getting defensive when I shared my frustration with the system, she was pleasant. Emily took my paperwork and made a call to track down the new plates. Her kind demeanor made me feel better even though my plates were not there and I would have to make a third trip the next day!
Romans 12:9—Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good.
The Contemporary English Version (CEV) translates Romans 12:9 by stating, “Be sincere in your love for others.” That’s what empathy is—a genuine ability to relate to what another is going through and be concerned! It is amazing what a difference it makes when someone listens and cares to understand the trials we face. Suddenly what before seemed so bad isn’t so bad. Do you suppose empathy was at work when God, seeing the effect of our sin nature, sent Jesus to experience firsthand life on earth and model holiness in order to save us? He detests evil but loves us in spite of our corruption. Amazing!
To empathize and validate what someone is experiencing does not mean that you always agree or even think that the other person in right. It just means that you see it as valid in that it is really their experience, and true for that person, and you show them that you understand what they are thinking and feeling.—Dr. Henry Cloud in integrity
©2015 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)