Suicide – You’re Nobodies Friend

No Night Is Forever

Suicide, my friend, you’re calling me again.  So began a poem I wrote at 15.  The escape of abuse and what sounded like an ultimate revenge on my abusers, was often on my mind. I think subconsciously I knew those thoughts came from the enemy, because I was always trying to escape them.  The only safe place after school was the roof of the house, and I’d often slip through my second story window to sit out there and wonder if there was any other way. 

It wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to be accepted, loved, treated with the tender care I saw other teens receive when I visited their homes.  Daddy treated me with respect when we worked in the woods together, and when he was home – which was as little as possible.  I couldn’t blame him.  He was away again on a work trip when I finally tried it.  I took lots of pills and went up to the room I shared with my sister.  The middle of that memory is missing. I only recall getting sleepy, then screamed at, slapped, and pushed into a chair with my head held back. Warm butter poured down my throat and gagged me.  It was a very effective purgative, and an immediate neutralizer of thoughts to try that again – at least until the dereliction of some ‘friends’ made me wish the attempt had been successful.  I hated to go home to the mocking derision that I couldn’t even do that right. I felt like the darkness would last forever. Those words were a small thing, though, compared to the looks, whispers, and cold shoulder treatment of some of my classmates – that was the hardest part…Not being understood by most of my peers. 

I couldn’t tell anyone why I did crazy things like spend half the night on the roof, because I’d get beaten again.  Especially if Daddy was gone. Daddy only learned of the suicide attempt ten years later when he drove me to visit one of my sisters.  We hugged her and she and I immediately began sharing our thankfulness to be away from home, and remembering various abuses and escapes, totally forgetting Daddy’s presence.  He’d slipped into a chair in the corner, and not until hours later, when his chair scraped as he stood, did we remember that Daddy had drove me there. Turning in shocked acknowledgement, his tears told us what words had not.  He hadn’t known.

I’d never seen a man cry, and this was not just any man, this was our hero.  He wept and begged our forgiveness, and once again called us girls his “Honey Bunnies” like he had before sickness and violence had overtaken our lives. 

The tables had turned and we were now comforting him.  What had we done!  We’d only focused on the bad of our lives. Quickly we sat Daddy down and shared how our faith had grown through different people and circumstances, and amazingly, the same book – the allegory of Hinds Feet in High Places.  I’d received a copy from a church friend, and my sister, from someone at the hospital. Like the main character, Much-Afraid, we were encouraged on the way by the Chief Shepherd, who came to our rescue, surprisingly accompanied by the companions Sorrow and Suffering.

The ironic theme of Much Afraid’s journey was being saved from the treatment of relatives named “Fearing.” Like her, we assured him, though Sorrow and Suffering tried to lead us down instead of up, the Shepherd made a covenant that He would never leave us, and we only had to trust His word. 

Daddy knew we trusted his apologies that he had not meant we be harmed in any way and he joyfully listened to the story of Much Afraid. He nodded when we told how we feared that the Shepherd would make us go up to the high cliff alone, and smiled when we shared evidences that He never left us, and taught us to climb the heights.

Daddy had felt overwhelmed with grief as he heard us sharing through tears the struggles of our valleys, and the loss from carrying our loads of bitterness, but he was thrilled to learn how much the rest of our story matched the book, as we finished sharing the journey of Much-Afraid being transformed with a new name.

Years later Daddy had heart surgery, but in his pain and despair, remembered my story and called to tell me, that was what got him through.  A few years later, I got to share another story with Daddy that gave special meaning to the suicide attempt.  Because of my experience, I was able to recognize the signs in a new co-worker. It was with much fear and trembling that I called and told a stranger Daddy’s story, and mine. That friend recognized his symptoms and agreed to join a family vacation and then see a doctor when they got home.  When his daughter sent a note saying ‘we have our daddy back’ I felt like my nightmare life had purpose.

Suicide?  You’re nobodies’ friend.   I am free of your taunting whispers. I’ve forgiven my abusers and I do not answer to you any more. You see, my name is no longer Much-Afraid.  My sisters have a new name too, and others who joined us. The night is over.  Your lies have been exposed. No night is forever.

Revelation – It is NOT what you thought!

At least it is NOT what I thought it was about…

It’s the UNEXPECTED purpose for these words that hit me when I read it differently:

Rev. 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.

The purpose for us who READ the book of Revelation


The purpose for those who HEAR the words of prophecy in Revelation


The purpose for those who HEED the things which are written in Revelation is the same:

Not to frighten me into obedience

Not to keep me awake at night wondering when these things will take place

But to BLESS me!

I may sound greedy, but I want every blessing I can get.  Whoa – did this change my perspective.

I love doing word studies, and looking up cross references to get the whole picture of something in the scriptures, and soon found another reminder to hear the Word of God:

Luke 11:28 But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God, and observe it.”

 I also found the end of Revelation giving a similar challenge as the beginning – Rev. 22:7 “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book.”

It’s like digging for gold!  The map says the gold is here!  So I look up the original language meaning of action words in these verses

Blessed (God’s action) – meaning happy, spoken well of-praised and bountifully esteemed or considered fortunate. (some call this favored)

God wants to favor us, make us bountifully fortunate and, thus, happy.

Who can get that blessing?  My action (actually Each one who will):

Readto know again (looking at detail), know certainly, recognize/comprehend

Hear – Listen attentively and understand –receive

Heed – To take thought of (ponder and pay attention to) to exercise the mind (observe), to comprehend, to heed or conform to a command or authority: — hearken, be obedient to, obey.

Likely because of my own lack in listening skills, I seldom feel that others are truly listening (but are like myself formulating an answer while the other party converses).

When I read with the new perspective, I see this book is not so much about what is going to happen, or how I react to what might happen, it is a revelation – an unveiling for me – of Jesus!

I am challenging myself and others to re-read Revelation looking for Jesus – Note passages that reveal who he is and what he is doing and will do for you.

Revelation is a book of revealing or unveiling Divine mysteries: If you feel you need help to see this new perspective, like I did – I recommend – How to Survive the End of the World by Bob Hostetler.

Eugene Peterson calls it “A book of great hope and joy and blessing.”

That is what Revelation was and is meant to be.  Will you read it again?

According to the Pattern

According to the Pattern

I was pregnant!  The bubbling joy I felt and the love already growing for the little unseen person in my womb was difficult to resolve with what I had been told about my own unwanted coming into the world. This child, I silently promised, was going to have a different life, to receive all I’d longed for – to know she was wanted – loved – and planned for.  But how could I teach, or show, something I hadn’t experienced or been taught?  What made me think I could be any different?

Too often my mind raced back to childhood feelings of inferiority. Like now, when I knew a visit home was near. I was married, for goodness sake, and for today I needed to forget the things that happened when Daddy was away at work. I had to find a way to celebrate.  I wanted to get on a hilltop and announce my pregnancy, to rent a billboard and to show that with God’s help I was creating a new someone.

A hurried walk to a nearby department store sadly revealed that there were not patterns for 85# women who still wore pre-teen clothing, so I bought the only maternity outfit sale-priced – a size 18.  I lay the jacket and open-holed tie-in-front skirt on the dining room table to cut off the side and back seams. Next I trimmed and shaped each piece until the shoulders and hips matched those on a favorite pattern, and then I sewed it all back together. 

Ken, the hero I’d met the previous September, was wide-eyed when he returned home after third shift, to see his still awake wife parading in the remodeled maternity outfit, and excited to share every detail of it’s transformation.  By the time I’d talked him to sleep he’d also agreed that even though I wasn’t ‘showing’ I could share our good news by wearing the outfit that weekend as we headed to my childhood home for a wedding and a county fair. I could hardly wait to tell my Dad, but he was at work in the woods and it was Mom who trotted toward us, madder than a hornet, as we entered the fairgrounds.

What on earth are you wearing? She shouted, pulling out the front of the maternity top – How dare you. There’s nothing under there yet. Or is there . . . she insinuated. 

I’m pregnant, I acknowledged proudly, and stubbornly.  I’m due in January, I added, knowing she’d already calculated the 9th month from our wedding.

Red-faced, she dragged me from woman to woman, announcing, She’s so excited, she wore this before she even began to show.  I barely heard others kind words and quickly made an escape, the warning that I had better wear different clothes to the wedding or ruin my sister’s special day ringing in my ears. Suddenly I felt eleven again, reliving constant cruel accusations that drove me to attempt suicide, and being reminded for years after that I couldn’t even do that right.

It was dark and Ken was already asleep when Dad drove in from work and spotted me on the porch.  We wandered in the big yard while he gave me a chance to unload my frustration, and to admit that I was too quick to believe the worst, to react instead of respond, and to worry how I would raise my child.

Tell me about the outfit you made, he requested. Surprised, I gave a one-minute overview, while he looked up at the stars, his cigarette glowing in the darkness.  So you knew what it would be before you started, right? And then you took it all apart?

Well, yes, I just, you know, cut each piece down to fit me.

How’d you know to do that?

Well, I learned in Home Ec how to tear out and put things back together. And I learned how to make a pattern for something.

Yes, the pattern, he answered thoughtfully, and then gestured over his shoulder at the truck heaped with logs.

Do you remember when you were little – talking about the load of logs?

You mean when I wondered how you could get them so high?

Um hmm.  And why did that surprise you?
Well, because of all the knots and bumps on the logs…when I tried to stack them it seemed impossible.

Remembering the picture of Daddy on the top of the truck instructing my brothers with the pick to move or flip this or that log until they slid into place one atop the other, I gasped.

You remember? He’d asked, already knowing the answer.

Yes.  You said you saw a pattern and you knew which ones to move to make it come together.

Silently he continued to gaze up into the night sky, and then pointed. And do you think there was a pattern for those?

Startled, I looked up. 

I don’t know.  I’m not sure if God just said let it be and there it was.


And…. I stammered, while connecting the dots in my mind. And… He saw a pattern before He made the stars?

Very good, and what about you? he pushed.

Me? What about me?

Who made your pattern?

My pattern?  Why, uh, God I guess.

I guess, he responded sardonically. So. Let’s see – the logs on the truck.  That pattern was…

Good, I supplied, seeing where he was going.

And the stars?


And you?

Good, I whispered as a tear made its way down my face. 

Better than good, he said – dragging out the syllables like Andy of Mayberry – go-oo-d!

I smiled at the imitation. Then his cigarette arced as he tossed it to the dirt.  He wrapped me in his arms, kissed my hair and whispered, no matter what happens, no matter what anybody says, it may hurt, and it may take awhile, but know this, if it’s His pattern, it’s gonna be good.

Thanks, Daddy I whispered as we headed back into the house.

Looking over his shoulder, he opened the porch door for me. He seemed to be inhaling strength as he glanced upward again and then gave me a side-hug. Keep looking up, he whispered conspiratorially, it’s gonna be good.

Psalm 139 -Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;

you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!  You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body. You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,

how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you; the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.

Daddy was right. Life is good. It’s especially good when you can finally see the pattern.

Psalm 23 – Because

(Because) He is MY shepherd

I lack nothing as His divine power provides everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him

Because He is MY shepherd

In the midst of worldly turmoil, He lifts off my stress and provides peace-filled rest

Because He is MY shepherd

My soul is restored

Because He is MY shepherd

He goes before me, clearing my path and guiding me to do what is right for His name’s sake

Because He is MY shepherd

I don’t fear the evil in the shadows and valleys because I do not walk alone -He is with me

Because He is MY shepherd

I am comforted knowing His rod will defend and protect me and I am confident His staff will rescue me back onto the right path when I slip

Because He is MY shepherd

I rejoice -even in the presence of enemies, because He prepares a luxurious spread before me that satisfies like no earthly treat ever has, and I rejoice as He places a holy calling on me to tell others about Him.

Because He is my shepherd my cup is not half full or half empty – it is overflowing!

Because He is MY shepherd

He who is goodness and lovingkindness will pursue me ALL the days of my life in this world and the next where I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever

Is the Lord Jesus YOUR shepherd?

He wants to be.

Christmas – A Gift of Sacrifice

  • An excerpt of a 2015 post (after the loss of a child) that feels even more relevant today

Christmas is really about celebrating Christ – the gift that came to conquer the grave for us. A gift of sacrifice.

We don’t often think of Christmas that way do we – as a celebration of a gift of sacrifice!

And now we are faced with a new thing. A Christmas focused on the future. My emotions tempt me to say no to Christmas because it will not be the same.  It. I pause to think of that little word, so important. But what is the “it”?  The message – the true sacrifice of Christmas has not changed. The IT that is changed is expectations based on the past.

Many of you have also lost a loved one. A child, a grandchild, a parent, a friend. And now a part of us is physically absent.  Our David’s determined faith and our Laurie’s joy and positivity will be remembered and honored. That is what they would have done for me.

The first time we chose to give sacrificially was a gift to us as well as it restored Christmas for us, and taught the children the real meaning of Christmas – a selfless gift – for others.

I encourage you all to remember the sacrificial gift of Christmas by joining me to give two sacrificial gifts – in honor of Christ and in honor of a loved one. It could be a gift of finances or a gift of time.  It could be grocery shopping for someone, rounding up all the carts in a store lot, making extra soup and sharing a bowl with someone who lives alone, or spending an hour listening to stories you’ve been told a dozen times before or a gift card.

It could be getting eye-ball to eye-ball with a toddler, and entertaining them to give their mom or dad a break, or it could be the privilege to help a single parent low on funds to find a gift for their child, or a book to help them through a lonely Christmas. It can even be anonymous.

I am sure you can think of many other ways you can honor the memory of your loved one and bless someone else’s Christmas by remembering the true meaning of Christmas – that Christ came to give us a sacrificial gift – a gift of hope and a future.

A Basket of Hope

I’d hidden the car a few blocks away. With finger-over-lips silently motioning, our three kids, ages 4, 6 and 7, climbed out of the station wagon, heading toward a softly-lit small weathered house set back from the highway. I felt like a cat burglar, with family-in-training, skulking along the bushes that separated the street and snow-filled ditch.

I paused to belatedly reassure myself that we hadn’t forgotten anything. Yep — the girls and I each had our assigned bags, and our little guy alternately carried and dragged a brightly painted red empty bushel basket.

Another car whizzed by and our little tow-headed son was amazingly solemn when I gently placed my flattened hand on his hat –our silent signal to scrunch down out of sight from the headlight glare. The girls also quietly ducked until the white light rode over us, the yard, and then finally slid over the snowbank by the road.

It was their idea after all. Laurie’s memorization of Luke 2: 8-14 for the Christmas play and multiple practices of its story of the babe with no place to lay his head had profoundly affected her and her siblings. Cheri in particular always wanted to help anyone in need, so one Sunday our eyes met in understanding when she’d climbed into the car without her mittens, then shrugged her shoulders in response to her daddy’s inquiry, pointing to a red-mittened little girl plowing across the snow-covered field with her mom to the same weather-beaten house that now stood before us.

The idea began then, but I love to read a different Christmas story each night of the entire month of December and the reading of The Gift of the Magi where both husband and wife gave their precious possessions to purchase a gift for the other had cemented it. All three insisted they could give up one or more of their gifts for someone who probably would not get anything otherwise, and thus the plan was born. What parent could refuse such a selfless act?

Pajamas, cocoa and gloves for everyone, a doll for the little girl and a truck for her brother, the makings of a simple Christmas meal wer gathered and here we were, whispering and darting from one bush to the other. Quietly the children circled the trees that flanked the sloping porch, Kevin placing the basket. I added plastic bags of food and raced with him behind the biggest bush at the edge of the yard while the girls quietly topped the basket with the wrapped gifts, knocked hard twice and raced back to join us collectively holding our breath as the door opened. It was the dad — he stood on crutches, looking around to the left — to the right — then called his wife. She stepped out and also scanned the yard, then bent to pick up the basket. Two little faces appeared stair-stepped in the lighted doorway and excited squeals sounded as eager hands helped to lift and carry the packages in. Then the door closed off their wondering chatter. That was our signal and we ran like the wind, our mitten-clasped hands joining reverently this time for a dash across the field to the waiting, and by now, cold car. There was none of the usual clamoring for front seat, and no murmuring about the car’s chill as we each privately recalled the faces outlined in the doorway’s glow.

That Christmas was especially meaningful; but a few months later following an announcement at church that the father’s leg had healed, and he’d gotten a new job out of town, our hearts were unexpectedly touched again.

As Cheri and I were about to exit behind our family, the mom stepped up behind me and slipped a plastic bag into my hand, which I could feel contained a frame. Don’t open it until you get home,” she admonished, “and,” she paused and whispered, “Merry Christmas.” I looked up in shocked dismay, wondering if she’d discovered our secret, but she shyly smiled and touching Cheri’s hair explained, “I’ve been working on this since your little one gave Edna the red mittens last December, so now it still seems kind of Christmassy. Hope you don’t mind, but those mittens were the start of our Christmas hope.”

Touched, I tearfully assured her we’d surely love whatever it was, and after last farewell hugs we rushed to the rest of the waiting family in the car. For once dinner could wait, and the moment we were in the door everyone hovered around the package as I drew out a simple cross-stitched picture of Mary and a contented baby Jesus, their hearts close.

It seemed to remind us that there was the place of Hope — close to the heart of Jesus. That picture still speaks the Christmas message in our home year-round and I wondered too if Cheri was treasuring the memory years later when she told me what she’d named her first little girl — Kristin Hope.

I Quit!

I quit.

I’ve heard that multiple times this week.

A widow whose appliances and home construction is failing day by day and she has no idea how to get them fixed or replaced.

An empty nester mom trying to make it on a smaller income and several of her children lost their jobs during 2020 and came home until they could find a new job/apartment/life.  They are trying to help out as they can, doing laundry, cooking, etc. but no one is handy and no one seems to understand her concern of escalating utility bills.

A young woman, who, due to job loss, (another 2020 casualty) had to declare bankruptcy and is having trouble getting an apartment application approved.

A woman with a mother beginning dementia and resistant to needed caregiving.

A senior whose assisted living complex has been placed under quarantine – again.  Lonely and tired of watching television, she is losing her purpose.

I repeat to them what God has told me over and over.  The multitude of times I felt like giving up. It is no sin to feel overwhelmed and wanting to quit. But it is an opportunity to trust. A dear friend calls such situations her patience builders.

Prov. 19:27 If you quit listening, dear child, and strike off on your own,

                  you’ll soon be out of your depth.

(Admit I’ve been trying to solve this by myself and I “feel” overwhelmed and want to quit)

1Pet. 4:12  Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job.

 (Listen to the voice of God’s Word first)

Psa. 145:14  GOD gives a hand to those down on their luck,

                  gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.

(Give thanks for many things God has already done for me)

Psa. 37:27 Turn your back on evil,   work for the good and don’t quit.

(Make the choice as Jesus did in the garden – I’d rather not go through this but believing you can and will bring glory to it, I submit to your will)

Feel like quitting?  Don’t.  Instead, ask God for help and ask us, and others around you for prayer. Next make the decision to do the next right thing, and watch God work.

Then come back and tell us how it all worked out.  I can hardly wait to hear the rest of the story!

What Can an Individual Do? This.

I’ve been writing legislators and asking them with all that is going on pointing toward a rapid decline for America, etc. what an individual (without a lot of money) can do. I asked what can an individual do besides vote for the most righteous, constitutional, godly legislators we can find.  I got one personal response with an indirect answer of what he was doing on our behalf, and the rest sent canned form letters.

Meme thanks to Wendy Speake

I felt frustrated and sad. As I was writing this I got the above verse meme from a friend. Obviously she and others are feeling this sadness too. It was perfect timing because earlier today I was doing errands and pondering multiple crises. I dashed in a department store to do a quick return, and on the way out sitting in the entry foyer on a bench was an attractive senior lady.  Someone (from the store it appeared) was talking to her so I walked by them and out of the store. I felt a tug in my spirit to go back and talk to her, so I turned around and saw she was alone now. I opened the door near her and asked if she needed anything, or if there was anything I could do for her.  She said she was fine, just frustrated as everytime her friend ‘takes her shopping’ the friend has to look at every little thing and takes so long.  “And I’m the one from the assisted living home!” she laughed.

I  unzipped my purse to see if I had any of the little booklets I often stash to read or to share Yes! A bright blue one. I told her I keep little booklets in my purse for just such times, and showed her, asking if she would like something to read while she waits.   She was very touched and said some kind and complimentary things and as I left asked my first name and responded, Delores, I will read it.  I did not ask her name. The booklet was Fearless – Imagine Your Life Without Fear by Max Lucado.  

Fearless: Imagine Your Life Without Fear

When I got outside the store, I felt God telling me – THIS. This is what you need to keep doing.  You don’t need to ask any more politicians  – you already have your answer. 

I thanked God for the opportunity and prayed for the lady – that she would find comfort – and Christ if she didn’t already know Him.

Do you also feel like the world is crumbling? Perhaps my reminder is for you also – that we would remember we are here for such a time as this.

Where will you bring Christ tomorrow? (As Christ-bearers, where we go, we bring Christ—we bring Him into the situation.)

Bring Hope

Bring Compassion

Bring Peace

Be On Guard for MYself

How is your pillow?

I have been looking for a better one for some time, and finally found one but it wrecked my emotions in one night.

How can a pillow do that?  Well, usually I sleep a few hours, toss and turn, flip the pillow over, or punch it back into shape.  I had a meeting this morning and purposely went to bed by midnight so I’d wake up early enough to get ready and drive to the 10:30 meeting out of town.  I did not leave a note by the alarm clock because I usually wake by 6 at the latest (unless I went to bed at 5 which I used to do).

Well, thanks to the new pillow I did not wake up once during the night… and overslept.  When I saw it was full daylight I ran to the clock.  10:10!  I’d missed the meeting. I’ve never slept that many hours at once, or slept that late

I sent texts and later had 2 calls filled with apology and rescheduling the part I could. Fortunately it was so unusual they were very understanding over the part that could not be redone, and graciously rescheduled the rest of the meeting.

Even though it was resolved early after I called, at least half the afternoon I was really bummed. More than bummed —I was so angry at myself.

It was past noon when the last call ended and I realized I’d missed 4 hours of my detox schedule. I’d have to start over tomorrow.  No big deal, right?  But I had another reason to be upset with myself. I was miserable and figured I deserved it but what about Ken?   I apologized to my hubby half a dozen times for my attitude, explaining that my emotions were off the charts. 

Then when we went to do one errand together, a driver coming the opposite direction did a really stupid thing and after it was over I told Ken what the emotional me had wanted to do, but reason won out because of Jeremiah 11: 20

         But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously,

         Who tries the feelings and the heart,

         Let me see Thy vengeance on them,

         For to Thee have I committed my cause

I could tell by the widening of his eyes I’d shocked Ken by what my emotions wanted to do and that he was trying to not speak and hold his laughter in (smart man).

When he said he was grateful for my making the right choice, the bell went on in my mind and heart.

I chose to turn over the offense of what that person did from me and my emotions to God because I knew I was not in a good place to resolve it or any way near to bring glory to God.

I may not often have control over what I “feel” but I still had and have the choice of the action instead of letting the feelings make the choice.

That realization enabled me to (finally) commit my ‘me’ concern over to the Lord as well, and then to learn from it instead of grumping about it.

It is so much easier to give God my concerns or complaints about others, than it is to give my grievances about myself to him.  I know because I have learned deeply that every offense is a choice to accept or not.  A test, you might say.  It is part of what that shield of faith does – deflects the enemy’s arrows.

I would never, never, never want to help the enemy get his arrows into a beloved sister in the Lord.  Why oh why did I move the shield and expose my own self as a target?

I sure don’t want a repeat of those miserable hours so I’ve committed my emotions to the Lord and aim to engrave on the shield of my heart this

Verse :

Acts 20:28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.

A Painful Gift

I have a painful “gift” – perhaps you have it too.

I was at a writers’ conference, visiting the publishers with a friend.  One publisher was sharing about their goals to share the gospel and as an example he shared the story of a missionary who had written for them and whose family was challenged by terrorists to recant their faith or be murdered.  The story was that the husband was told first to recant or his wife would be shot immediately.  Their eyes met and she reportedly told him determinedly don’t even let the thought cross your mind.  The husband refused to deny Christ and the wife challenged, also refusing to deny her Lord, and then their child was challenged and also refused to recant. All were shot, and the husband only survived.  I burst into tears.  Apparently not used to that reaction, the publisher and my friend looked at each other in shocked surprise and I excused myself.

I joined an authors tour group in Israel and when we were taken to the Holocaust memorial I got through about half when I began crying and could not stop.  Our guide suggested I wait outside the last area where she was speaking. I could not bear to hear or read the personal stories. My heart hurt over the suffering and loss of my brothers and sisters in the faith, and felt the loss as close as I would my own actual relatives.

I can hardly bear to watch the news anymore. Tragedies abound from all kinds of abuse, disease, acts of hatred and natural disasters. It is overwhelmingly oppressive. I am sure part of my response is my own experience with abuse, and the ‘gift’ of empathy. I couldn’t bear it—if God hadn’t shown me just that – I cannot bear such weight on my own.

So what am I to do with all these emotions, feelings, concerns, and cares?

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

 Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Though the word empathy I use is not in scriptures, examples of it are:

Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Heb. 13:3)

Galatians 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

And the apostle Paul said – I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. (1 Cor. 9:22… meaning that he willingly identified with them, which is a compassionate form of empathy.

One dictionary defines empathy as “perspective taking” – our ability to identify with and understand other people’s emotions.

Empathy is much more involved than sympathy – feeling sadness or compassion.  There is said to be three parts or kinds of empathy:

Cognitive Empathy – a knowing or understanding of another person’s experience and/or listening until I understand.  The only way I believe I could have the knowing or understanding is if the Holy Spirit gives me the understanding, or if I have experienced it.  I think of 2 Corinthians 1:4 – who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God

Emotional Empathy– to feel physically along with the other person as though their emotions were contagious.  Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Compassionate Empathy– when we understand the person’s predicament, feel along with them, and are moved to help them.

My kids call me a fixer.  Are all moms fixers?  I am not sure, but it is both a strength and a failing for me.

I know I am merely human, and I cannot ‘fix’ all the tragedies and challenges of life but I can take action that will help each one – and it has nothing to do with what I can ‘afford’ materially to do for someone.

Far more important is prayer.  Not even, I’ve done all I can and now all that is left is prayer.  No – it is prayer first.

Who, besides You, Lord really knows and has the supplies for all their needs – spiritually, physically, emotionally?

Beyond prayer is there may or may not be something that God has led me to DO for them or to share with others who can care for them.

I hope this has not turned out to feel like a lesson. I’m just really reminding myself how I need to evaluate the personal, public, national and international situations and needs that could overwhelm me and render me useless before God and man.  I am still in training camp, learning to acknowledge it is not in my power to ‘fix’ anything or anyone and to wait and respond after getting directions from God, rather than reacting.

So how about you, if you haven’t given up, and followed my lengthy confession…  Do you also have the sometimes-painful gift of empathy?  If so, how do you deal with it?  

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