At work the other day, our team was discussing giving others grace and mercy. We didn’t use those words, but that is what it boiled down to. Some of coworkers are more easily frustrated with the drama that comes from people. They see the actions or lack of actions and just don’t understand. We have a lot of discussions to try to help build empathy.
As a Social Worker, empathy is a core skill in being effective with other people. I might not have walked through what someone else has exactly, but I can stop to think of what it would be like to walk in their shoes. Then I can better understand why they make some of the decisions they do. Seeing where they are, I can look for options to get them on the right path.
I believe that deep down people want to be good; they just don’t know how to get past the circumstances they have been dealt or the bad choices they have made. There are times that I can easily enter into someone else’s world. Someone shares the details of their life. For a moment I get a glimpse of just a small part of how they got where they are when they meet me. When I can do that, my heart usually is filled with compassion. I meet them where they are; I try to come up with workable solutions for them to choose.
There are other times, I am sad to admit, where my empathy is not there. Sometimes it’s because I am busy and don’t take the time. Or because the person has a wall up and won’t share on a level that helps me see what their life is really like. Other times, it is because I have dealt with a person so many times, that I’m just done with their excuses and the lack of effort on their part. I am less forgiving, and less likely to do more than say “Here is some resources, these would be helpful.” and point to specific ones that might help if they make the needed effort.
I am so grateful that Jesus understands our weakness. God knew that we would need His mercy and His grace. Jesus faced temptation, so that He could empathize with us. He literally came down from heaven and put Himself in our shoes. Unlike me, He is never too busy. He makes every effort to help tear down the walls that separate us. He doesn’t weary of excuses or lack of effort.
Jesus faced temptation that He overcame so He could empathize with us. He has been where we are. But not only does He give empathy, because He has been where we are, we can boldly go to God to receive His grace and mercy. Jesus is there interceding on our behalf. Not just saving grace – but grace when we need it most. Grace, not only favor and honor but grace to live the life He called me to live. Not just the compassionate part of mercy, but the pardoning of all my sins. Praise be to God for empathy!