This is, at least to me the most difficult words in the English language. Too often it is confused with “sympathy” and they aren’t even close. Empathy is a constant challenge and it takes work. Rather than trying to explain something myself and screw it up you will be better served watching this short Brené Brown video on Empathy.
Empathy requires engagement, not just flowers and it is Empathy that fuels connection. But Empathy can hurt, it can cause pain. It is hard looking people in the eye as they are losing their business, losing their retirement dreams, losing family members and their faith.
Right now the world can benefit from Empathy more than anything else. If you have Empathy you have a better chance of knowing what someone needs at the right time. There is joy in Empathy too. Paul Thompson had true joy for someone else’s good fortune even if it did not include him at that moment. It is one of his traits that influences my thinking and focus.
The purest form of Empathy is when you encounter someone who is 180 degrees opposed to how you think, how you believe. Can we have Empathy for people so different from us? I am not sure because I cannot sort it out in my head. Take some time and explore this subject. This world needs Empathy as much as it ever has at any time in history. The goal is to come out the other side of this better than we are now. I do not believe this is possible if we do not grapple with this most difficult word. In many ways Empathy is the equivalent to the Apostle Paul’s assertion about love in I Corinthians 13.