Each day I find my admiration, respect and love for my beloved wife growing, and recently I've found that I need to add another emotion to this list … jealousy! Yes, I am jealous of my wife and her gift of empathy. We listen together to the latest refugee’s story and almost immediately she is hugging this total stranger, tears streaming down her face as she offers up her heartfelt, almost anguished prayers - the period of intercession usually closing with a whispered question “Has my mascara run?” (I find ‘panda eyes’ most endearing - well, on women anyway)
This empathy seems to be so cathartic, almost as if her tears bring a release, a cleansing to the defiling situation we’ve just heard about. Yes, we both hear exactly the same story. Lesley responds with deep tears and intercessional groans. My response is one of …. honestly …anger! I find it abhorrent that human beings can behave so unkindly, cruelly, wickedly towards others.
Of course, I’m able to give this anger a virtuous title, calling it ‘righteous indignation,’ a burning against injustice and the like. Yet I continue to find myself defiled by the anger, not released as Lesley appears to be by her gift of empathetic identification. Hence my jealousy!
Over the past few weeks, story after story has simply increased the burden within me, with no release until at last I could no longer carry it.
“Lord, my heart is so heavy, so troubled. Will you not help me?”
His reply came as clear as a bell, from the opening verses of John 14.
“Let not your heart be troubled.”
“But Lord, how can I not have a troubled heart? Have you not also heard the cries of these broken hearts and seen these tortured, shattered lives?”
(Remember dear ones, that on this blog we only share with you the ‘sanitized’ cleaned-up accounts of the horrors experienced by many of our refugee friends)
“How can I not have a troubled heart?”
His answer came again, still through John 14
“Trust in God, trust also in me.”
Oh, I’d still like to have Lesley’s gift of empathy. I continue to have a ‘holy jealousy’ of it, but now I realise that I don’t need it. That it is possible for me to have a ‘large’ heart, a ‘caring’ heart, without it being also a burdened and troubled heart.