Empathy

June 23, 2015  •  Leave a Comment
Upon deciding to step down from my church pianist position of 10 years, I realized my takeaway was far greater than my investment. Here is my thank you to a most gracious, giving group of people.
 
Psalm‬ ‭34‬:‭11-12‬ MSG says, 
 
Who out there has a lust for life? Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty? 
 
I read that not long ago and restrained an impulse to begin wildly waving my hand in the air. I am a seeker of beauty. I'm awed by intricate details, marvel at concepts beyond my understanding, and humbled by unfathomable grace.
 
These past 10 years I have had the privilege of witnessing this type of beauty. You, church, have shown me the beauty of empathy.
 

Wikipedia tells us empathy is the capacity to place oneself in another's shoes. But, how it cultivated? This is what you taught me:

Empathy:
. doesn't put on airs
. recognizes need and is ready 24/7; it knows what to do
. gives generously, joyfully
. constructs a plan and works it
. creates opportunity
. is a single effort or collaborative
. is hardworking, tireless, and reliable
. spends time, believes
. is kind, persistent but patient, encouraging, forgiving
. becomes trustworthy over time
 
During these 10 years, empathy expanded its context and became personal, manifesting itself through:
 
. a friend who believed my skills could add value to a church pianist position, and later, to a church directory project
 
. a phone call that said we're thinking of you, as I coaxed life into a Grandmother willing herself to die
 
. a stand-in-the-gap friend who assured me I wasn't crazy after briefly losing my sight; moments later she knocked on my ER door and stayed until my release late into the night
 
. instrumentalists who never said no to trying something different and challenging
 
. a couple of exquisite wood-turned bowls; gracious gifts representing time, skill, and hard work that said "your hard work makes a difference"
 
. and, a humble, supportive husband who believes the greatest gift you can give to someone is a belief in his or her potential; I am truly blessed
 
While those were empathy's tangible contexts, I've felt its essence most poignantly in:
 
. brief moments of quiet preceding prayer - as a collective inhale before petitioning Almighty God, and in
 
. pin-drop silence during a musical piece or at an offertory's end where we, from all different walks, exhale as one; worshiping a Savior who cares about every intricate detail, who is able to do far more abundantly than we could ever ask or imagine, and whose unfathomable grace grants us life of extravagant beauty.
 
It has been such a privilege to worship with you. Your influence has changed me. With gratefulness for the opportunity I have been given, I echo David's sentiment in Psalm 16:6 NCV:
 
My share in life has been pleasant; my part has been beautiful. Thank you, church.

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