Friday, December 05, 2008

Empathy at Christmas

I awoke this morning to subzero wind chills and a second day of a swollen throat and fever. Hopefully three meals of orange juice will help the latter, only Spring will bring back the warmth outside. There are e-mails to return eventually but today I must finish everything that needs to be accomplished before my visitors arrive on Saturday.

I had my weekly appointment with my doctor's nurse a couple days ago. One has to wait awhile at the County Medical Clinic, even when they have an appointment. Although I usually take a book with me, I always end up people watching for such places are fascinating. Their faces... the delight of the very young... the wrinkled faces of despair and hopelessness of the old.

This week most of those waiting with me were young Hispanic mothers. It isn't always so. There have been farmers in their tractor company hats, unemployed construction workers, young men and old women, and mothers of small babies who look as if they are barely out of childhood themselves. A variety of fellow sojourners in life traveling down a path most of us did not anticipate.

For some reason, my thoughts flashed back a little over twenty years to an afternoon corporate board meeting. I was dressed in my wool navy "power suit", meeting with the President and Vice Presidents of the company in long range planning exercises. I was about Stephanie's age at the time, working with my boss in Organization Development. It doesn't seem all that long ago, yet, at the same time... I look back at that young woman and can no longer relate. Who was she? It couldn't possibly be me for she is young, healthy, smart, so assured of herself and the world.

As my thoughts came back to the reality of today, I remembered what Beth Moore had taught just that morning. Nothing happens to us without going through God's "yes". It takes a broken heart to empathize with one who cries the same tears. Is that God's gift to me? Mercy so I can reach out to the hurting with mercy? My eyes fill with tears at the site of sadness all around me in this Season of Joy.

In the days and months ahead, how many other people will find themselves uninsured and sitting in such a clinic? Their suits gathering dust in the closet, their heels replaced by old and comfortable shoes. How many fathers will send out hundreds of resumes, hoping for just one open door. How many mothers will pray at the side of a sick child, hoping they do not need medicine they can't afford.

I can stop by Starbucks on the way home, a gift from one who appreciates Pumpkin Spice Lattes like I do. I have a couple of dollars in my pocket, ready to find a diamond in the rough at the Mission thrift shop near the doctor's office. I go home with my dollar treasures.

Most of my "Christmas" work is behind me now. The package has been sent to New England, treasures purchased throughout the year... always with Christmas in mind. The excitement of finding "just the right gift" at a price I can afford, placed in the box where such treasures are kept until time to wrap them and send them on their way.

I will make the puppy chow today, completing the gift baskets for my husband's two siblings. We cut back completely on Holiday baking this year, except for what I made for them and what I'll bake for Christmas dinner. Good for my budget, my waistline, and keeping my blood sugar numbers down. :)

I thank God for this path. Not what I wanted or what I had asked for but indeed a gift from Him. To be able to catch the eye of another at the clinic and give them a knowing look... I understand. I feel your pain and your frustrations.

But there is One Who gives hope to the hopeless. That's what all this glitz and glitter is all about. The Baby of Christmas who grew up to be the Saviour of the world. The true Gift this Season offers. Peace. Hope. Love.

I cannot put money in the bucket as the bell is ringing outside of the store. But I can lead you to the One who offers you water so you thirst no more. Dust off the Bible on the shelf. Read the Gospels. He is real.

Picture: Seasons of Peace;


Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

To have this empathy is a very real gift, Brenda, and it is a gift you have which you use to help others. I especially loved the end of your post today.

Christy@MercyEveryMorning said...

Beautiful. Thank you.

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Hmmm, "silver and gold have I none, but such as I have"...that is the BEST gift of Christmas.

To read a Brenda post is a gift every day to me.


Cheri' said...

Your post today is very touching! It's evident the trials you have faced have built the character of Christ into your life. Your empathy is the fruit of your trials! And in your writing you are leading others to the One Who has worked in your heart and can work in theirs too! Thanks for sharing your life!

Peggy Lorenz said...

Brenda, when you spoke of people "traveling down a path most had not anticipated", that really spoke to me. My husband (only 47) was diagnosed with prostate cancer just 4 days ago. It is an aggressive type, and we have tests next week to determine if it has already spread (a very real threat). My faith is what is keeping me going right now. Thank you for providing such encouraging words to all of us!

Marge said...

Amen and Amen! We may have nothing to give but the gift of God. Eternal life. What else is there?

Blessings on your weekend.

Heather L. said...

As always, thanks for your blog. It is so refreshingly real.

lady jane said...

His mercies are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness Oh Lord!

Thank you for sharing from your heart. It's always a welcome pleasure reading your account of things, Brenda. Reality with spiritual meaning. Love it.

Bless you this day, dear lady. <><

(i'm having a bit of a giveaway, if you'd like to tiptoe over)

lady jane said...

Peggy Lorenz ~ if you're reading through later posts, please know I've added your dear husband (and you) to my prayer list. <><

Suze said...

Beautiful post!! I know what you mean about empathy, having been through a lot in my life and finding myself a very flawed human being - I feel for the rest of mankind around me as I come in contact with them. After all, but for the grace of God, there go I.

Angela said...

Thank you so much was a blessing to my spirit,,and I KNOW the Lord is so pleased with His precious daughter that is you!! We don't think Randy got the job that we had 'hoped' for, but as I told Randy today,,we may have thought this was 'perfect' but God is saying He desires His best for us, and we must place our trust in Him!! During the most difficult time in our lives, these have been such an AMAZING time of seeing God's hand leading us in love, filling us with peace, and His lavish provisions..It amazes how He provides. I told Randy, "you have done everything,,now let God DO.." (sending out resume's, job searching,etc). Let go and Let God!!

gail said...

Thank-you Rhonda,

We all seem to have our trials but its want you do with them that counts. You are doing the Father's Business and you will be blessed.

Quinne said...

Hi Brenda :) A lovely post, this. Thanks for the reminder to really see. Love, Q

Trish said...

Brenda...I love you so much!!

And Peggy Lorenz...I will be praying.

Love, Trish

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brenda. This post really touched me. I believe the gift of mercy is growing in me through my trials, as well.

Susan B said...

Very beautiful Brenda. I believe that the Lord brings us through trials in our lives, so we will be able to share with others in their time of need. Thank you for pointing us back to the One who provides the answers we seek.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Brenda, I can't tell you haow meaningful this was to me! I wish everyone could read it! The Lord has called on me also to set aside pride--it is the most wrenchingly (is that a word?) difficult thing in the world to do. You speak Truth. I pray the Lord's hand and healing touch upon you! Blessings, V

Rita said...

Thank you for writing this post. You are teaching me.

Abounding Treasures said...

I heartily agree that the Lord allows trials and situations in our lives, knowing that He is with us every step of the way, leading us through, so that we can be more empathetic to others He brings across our paths ... and ultimately, share with them WHY we have peace in the midst of our pain and that the gift of salvation is freely offered to them as well :o)

Thanks for giving us this little glimpse!