“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen
Who is our neighbor? As Jesus said, our neighbor is anyone and everyone. Jesus also said “do not judge, so that you may not be judged” (Matthew 7:1). However, as we know, it’s tough to love or refrain from judging even our own family and friends sometimes, let alone someone we don’t know, understand, or agree with. This is where empathy can help.
Brené Brown says that empathy “fuels connection.” She illustrates empathy as someone being down in a hole of despair and being willing to climb down there with them and say “I know what it’s like down here and you’re not alone.”
Scholar Theresa Wiseman says there are four key components to empathy:
- See the world as others see it.
- Be nonjudgmental
- Understanding another’s feelings
- Communicate the understanding
To be clear, empathy and loving your neighbor does not mean agreeing with or adopting the beliefs of your neighbor. It means being willing to understand their perspective and being willing to care for them despite being different from you.
How might you practice empathy this week? Share this post with others and ask them about their experience with empathy,
With Social Thread we help you explore your faith on your own terms through connecting you with others who are on a similar journey.
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