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Empathy…the Gift that Keeps on Giving

February 27, 2014
by marfis75

by marfis75

I’m pretty sure at this point not a soul is reading this very long God Story that I’ve felt so inclined to pen. And if you are still here,  God bless you, you’re a warrior and friend.

In short…I asked, God spoke, I did. Thus this story (Part 1, Part 2Part 3 and Part 4).

I’m not sure whether to call this final part of the story a beginning or end. I guess it’s a little bit of both. It is an end to the thought that originated these last 4 posts and into this one. It is an end to some of my own personal testimony and story that I have never really written or told in full before.

It is also a beginning. It is the beginning of where I am now. It is my present process and purpose. It is the starting point for some life stories and God stories being formed and yet to come.

I am only beginning to see what and why and how…

I’ve come a long way from constant transition to an empathetic heart that keeps me up late at night (it’s 1:09am as I write this). I still struggle. I don’t do empathy perfectly I don’t even respond each time God asks. I find habits of transition alluring and easy and am not always able to stop wandering toward them.

But I’m trying. I’m starting by remembering.

Almost everyone I know, and definitely those I know well, I met because of transition. You see, when you’ve been through as many transitions as I have you can spot a person in transition from across the room. You can see it in their face, hear it in their words, sense it in their actions. You read it in between the lines of their Facebook posts and hear it during the breaths of their prayers.

And then I have a choice. Do I walk (or even run) the other way or do I engage. Do I become involved?

Ignoring is the easy thing to do. I can almost justify it. “This is their transition, not mine.” “Maybe God is trying to teach them through transition, I’ll just let Him do his thing.” Or “I managed just fine, so will they.”

Engaging is the hard thing to do. It means listening (often without comment or input) to someone as they try and work out their story, this is burden bearing.

It means that if God is using transition for a big change that maybe I’ll be involved now but post-transition I’m not needed, this is being a vessel, regardless of the length of need.

It means being fully who I am so the person transitioning knows they are not alone, even when I don’t feel like I have anything to give, this is being strong in The Lord for he gives life and breath.

Over and over again I’ve begun to engage. I’ve started to take the risk. And over and over again God has asked me to pour myself out only to fill me fuller than I was.

Several years ago I took a risk and colead a small group of parents with my husband. I felt inadequate, disconnected and totally not on the same page as the people in our group. I never felt like anyone was “getting it” when we first started, myself included, yet we continued on.

And what did God do? He poured me out. God just kept nudging. Call her, talk to her, say yes to her, sure you know your time with her is limited to the schooling her husband is in but ENGAGE ANYWAY.

And I did. And that mama did move away. But before she did God created a bond between us.

From afar, I have seen that mama add 2 more miracles to her family, be baptized into Jesus and love others in a way that is wider and deeper than even I can.

The mama who I was sure I had the least likely in common with not only became a survivor of her transition and thrived through huge transition but a friend. One who is a now constant encourager to me.

God asked me to pour out, to engage her transition, to live with her through it and in the end I was not tired or scared or hurt or lonely but FULL. Filled up with Spirit and love and compassion and I didn’t even ask for it! It was an unexpected gift.

That is grace.

No, it doesn’t always work out this way. I have followed God’s call towards people who have turned their backs or been filled and transitioned away or just weren’t interested in encouragement. Not every relationship is meant to be forever but I made a commitment to go where God calls and so I just keep pressing on when I hear Him.

I commit to engage those around me in transition not because I can or because it makes sense (I’m married with almost 4 kids – it’s not like I have endless free time!), not because it’s comfortable (short term relationships are hard and require quick and deep honesty, talk about uncomfortable) and not even always without fear (I’m human, I could really screw things up at any point!), but I engage because God gives us each a little piece of grace to pass on.

My grace is empathy in the midst of transition…He has wasted nothing of my past fears and failures but made it all His, all grace, all love.

In the end it’s all His. WE are all His.

So what keeps me up at night…what burdens me…it is you. It is the face of each woman that I sense is in transition, even if she doesn’t know it yet. It is your soul that God has etched on my heart.

And when God says engage…beware…I’ve gone all in. He is mine and I am His and you can be too.

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Transitions and Empathy

February 25, 2014

Yes, I promise someday I will write about something else except transitions, that day is not today.

(And if you want to catch up, at your own risk, check here, here and here).

There’s this thing that happens when we go from knowing something to believing something. It is usually a process for this to happen. That seems to be God’s design.

He reveals something and we know it. It makes sense in some way. We “get it” on a very surface level. Yet as we begin to live out our knowing, we begin to experience it. We go from having head knowledge to having heart knowledge. We move from giving facts to telling stories. We go from knowing to believing.

I knew for a long time that God had a purpose for me. Yet only now am I beginning to see, understand and experience what it might be or where it might lead.

Because I have always been in transition I have always seen myself as an outsider. On the fringe. Not able to be included.

Since I have spent most of my life in transition I have also gained great skill, the skill of networking. Not networking in the business sense (although I was in sales for a time and realized I actually network well and would go far in a corporate environment where that was required).

I’m thinking of networking more in the sense of connecting. Since I’ve been on the outside looking in so often, it is easy for me to identify the need for Person A and Person B to make a connection. Person A has a need, Person B has a skill, connect them and voila! To be able to see the needs, skills and goals of those around me and be willing to connect is a great skill and can be very impactful.

However, when I am not person A or person B I have very limited long term involvement or impact. And while I am 100% sure that God uses this and blesses this and that I will keep doing it, I always felt like something was missing, that God was asking for something more.

God wanted me.

God wanted me to not just be a matchmaker of needs and skills but be a part of the match. I hesitated. If I’m going to be honest, I out right resisted.

Being part of the match meant more investment. It meant being more vulnerable. It meant slowing down to process. It meant relationships that needed pursing. People that needed love. It meant listening when I wanted to think and encouraging when I wanted to be silent.

But God is persistent. When we give God just a little, He takes a whole lot.

And the he gave me a gift, empathy.

You see, anytime I’ve done any kind of spiritual assessment I rank lowest in compassion and mercy. Almost ZERO. I know a man made quiz does not reveal the heart of God or mans soul but let’s face it – if for years you keep experiencing the same thing, you begin to accept it as truth. For me I just decided I didn’t have it in me to be merciful and compassionate so I would do the hard things for Jesus and leave the mushy Jesus things to someone else.

And then I began to struggle with transition, purpose and calling. In that time God reminded me that I was made in HIS image, HIS likeness and that nothing I had experienced would be wasted and he would make it something NEW.

I could have mercy and compassion. I did have a purpose. And because God wastes nothing he would use me right where I was, I had been given the gift I needed.

And Rachael the analytic, somewhat skeptic, realist, was given the gift of Empathy and God began to change me.

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Transition MEANS Something…

February 20, 2014
By D. Sharon Pruitt

By D. Sharon Pruitt

Yep…still here…still talking about transition (catch up here and here). Just for a refresher here are some things we’ve established…

1. We are all people in process
2. Process and Transition are different
3. Personally, I’ve been a women of Transition (both by circumstance and choice)

Today I want to uncover this idea…my constant transitions have not been a waste.

My experience tells me that I’m not the only person that has sought (sometimes extreme) transition as a method of “change” and “growth”. A lot of us have.

Transition is fun, challenging, scary, intimidating and life changing. At its surface transition seems to help us achieve purpose and meaning. But transitions are hard.

Transitions are abrupt. They are big, they are often quick, they can be seen.
Processing is slow. Often small, frequently lacking in excitement and generally internal.

(Total side note: God uses both transitions and processing to work in people. It is just my personal conviction that he prefers his people to process. Noah followed God for 400+ years before building the ark, Paul grew for 3 years after his conversion before he became a missionary and Jesus lived for 33 years before he gave His life as a ransom for many…)

When I realized my own life was pretty much all transition and no processing I began to feel horrible about my life and sad about who I was. Obviously, it was my fault I didn’t have a childhood best friend, it was my issue that I didn’t have a place to call my hometown, I was the isolated one and it was my choice and my fault.

Yeah, NO. God’s grace and love is redeeming! He makes all things NEW.

Was I really going to be defined by my 6th grade past of not having a best friend (not if I believe that God WAS then and IS now)? Was my lack of roots in one location going to ruin who I was or how God saw me (not if I was going to embrace my real citizenship in heaven)? Was I going to wallow in loneliness because it was just to hard to start yet again (not if I believed that Gods people are members of a body).

All the sudden I began to see it. All my transitions meant something. They all had purpose. All those transitions gave me a skill, adaptation. All those transitions gave me eyes, to see others in transition…and that’s where you come in.

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Testimony and Transition

February 18, 2014

So the other day I wrote this little piece on process and transition. As I’ve been reflecting on purpose and process and transition, I keep running into some of the same things. Things about me and my life. Things I have defined and things that I haven’t thought much about.

I thought it only fair since I started this thought process that I should keep thinking out loud and invite you along…

I suppose what is about to follow may be considered a testimony of sorts…right now for me, it’s just truth and yet scripture reminds us that truth is a testimony…so here it goes…

I’ve always been a person in transition. It’s just how my life has happened. Consider for a minute these things…

1. I’ve lived in 3 or 4 different countries and about the same amount of US States (depends on what you count as “living”)

2. The longest I’ve ever stayed In 1 place is approximately 9ish years, and that was in the last 10 years.

3. I went to 3 different high schools and 3 different colleges

4. I’ve gone to Christian School, Lutheran School, Catholic School and Public School

5. By the time we moved to our current home I’d resided at 5 different addresses in the last 10 years and over 30 different addresses through out my life.

I’m 33 years old.

When I say I’ve always been in transition, I really mean it. During my childhood my family was in ministry, in my young adulthood I was a wanderer and in the last couple years I’d say I’ve been a follower.

I’m 33 years old.

Somewhat ironically, I married a man who was born and lived in the same town until he went to college. Even then, he’s only ever lived in 2 other cities. He went to the same school, had the same friends and can even claim that his parents live in his childhood home. (As you might guess, he’s the more sane and stable of the two of us, one of the many reasons I love him!) I am constantly amazed that God chose this man for me.

Maybe it’s the fact that we are about to have 4 kids, or that I’m currently not working full time or that I’m just aging…but I’ve always struggled with the fact I was a woman in constant transition.

In my young adulthood my anger towards being constantly transitioning just led to more transitions! I went from job to job, college to college, potential career to potential career. I kept seeking satisfaction in the comfort of change and yet I just kept feeling empty.

I kept asking God “Isn’t this what you want? Aren’t I supposed to grow into who you created me to be? Doesn’t that mean I keep transitioning so one day I’ll hit the magic God Mark and be in the right spot?”

While these questions hold some truth they are not true, this is not God’s method. This is mans method. Keep transitioning and you will “find yourself”, “arrive”, “get there”.

God’s method of finding purpose does not start with me, it starts with God, quietly.

“Be STILL and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46)

Ponder for a moment a few translations and interpretations of this verse…

Cease striving and know that I am God…”
New American Standard

Be silent, and know that I am God…”
New Living Translation

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God…”
The Message

Do you see it? Do you feel it? We can not transition our way close to God or his purpose for us. For a moment, in the midst of our daily life of process, we must stop. Cease. Slow. Be silent.

Transition has a place but it is not meant to be a way of life.

We are all in constant process but that doesn’t mean we are in constant transition. Some processes are slow, silent.

This is a newer way of life for me. To stop seeking transition and enjoy and grow in the rhythms of process. And as I’ve begun to understand it, God has begun to speak.

And in His words, I hear YOUR name. I see YOUR face. And I am beginning to get a glimpse of what may be ahead for us both.

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Processing Out Loud

February 12, 2014

I’m processing out loud today (can I even do that since you can’t really hear me?!?)…I know you are just super interested in how my crazy little brain functions (or not!)…but hang in there with me for a minute.

Recently in the middle of a God Talk by Rebekah Lyons the question was asked “What keeps you up at night, what burdens you?”

Now, to be totally honest, I’m not much of a worrier, I haven’t been for a long time. I am pretty confident there is not very much in this world that I can truly control so why even try. My fate is in God’s hands. If I can just give what I have today I’m at least moving in the right direction.

I know this isn’t everyone, but it is me. (Us realist types can be hard to deal with sometimes, I really do apologize!) So the particular question of what keeps me up at night, what burdens me, was particularly intriguing.

You see, there are things that keep me up at night, and there are things that burden me, but they are not things that I am worried about. I’ve always associated burden with worry, but I think I was wrong. Instead I lay awake over things that I have questions about or am intrigued by. Things that make me wonder and things that stop me in my tracks.

For years I have wondered what in the world was the point of this blog, or writing at all. Was I selfishly looking for something for myself through it? Was I really trying to encourage others? Was I merely writing to write or maybe just keeping a true log of my life process?

At anytime I think it has been all those things and none of those things. Most of the time it just is. But in that moment of thinking about what keeps me up at night, what really burdens me, it’s you.

You, the person reading this right now (bless you for enduring such irregular blubbering!). Each and every person that stops and reads has some things in common…

1. Most of you are women (Let’s hear it for the ladies!)

2. A lot of you are moms (And if that isn’t just hard work…)

3. I know or have encountered you in person or online because you were/are in transition

You see that 3rd thing…that, that is what I’m pondering today.

We are all in constant process. Yet process and transition are different.

Process is what happens every day. We learn something new, we change a bad habit, we alter how we do something every so slightly.

But transition. Transition doesn’t happen all the time. A lot of us would call transitions the “seasons” of our lives. Singleness to Married life. Childlessness to motherhood. Not working to paid employment (or vice versa).

Transition is bigger than process. Sure, both processing and transitions are interconnected. They cross paths and impact one another. But while we are always in process we are not always in transition.

I’m stopping there today…just letting that all sink in. Thinking of you. Thinking of me. Thinking of life. Thinking of Jesus. Join me?

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More Time Than You Know What to Do With…

February 6, 2014

That one day, when you had more time than you a knew what to do with. Remember how that felt?

You were over the moon with the thought of so much open time in your day and just couldn’t breath it in deeply enough. What? This hasn’t happened in years? Or ever?

Not to fret it hasn’t happened to me either – at least not the deeply breathing it in part!

As moms, women in this decade and just people, we are generally go go go wishing we had more time. Then, when time presents itself (however rare) we find a way to fill it with something that just HAS to be done RIGHT NOW and we go on wishing for more time. We may grumble or complain in a passing conversation to a girlfriend OR we wear a gracious face about our crazy lives but we all know what we are REALLY thinking.

I had that day.

One thing about being in transition is that it can be slow. Some things just take time. My transition is taking time.

I woke up, sent kids off to school (rather peacefully and calmly I might add!), had a cup of coffee and stared at the wall. 8:28am.

Now what? Laundry and dishes are done, I’ve spent some time in reflection this morning, my girls are reading books not interested in my attention at the moment…oh sweet joy…or not.

Sitting in the midst of all the peace that defined my morning, the beauty of a family rhythm that had taken place and all I could do was whine.

Not to anyone in particular but my inner dialogue was spinning. Now what? I’m bored. I don’t have anything to do. I wonder if every other mom feels this way? This isn’t very fun. What should I do? And so on…

Could I sound anymore like my 1st grade son when he realizes it’s Saturday and we don’t have any plans?

Again, what a poor reflection of the state of my heart this particular day!

For weeks I have been praying for just one school morning without drama. For days I have just wanted to sit and breath with no heavy expectations resting on my shoulders. For hours I have just wanted to appreciate all that is happening around me.

And now, now that I have the chance, I’m a whiner.

If I ever thought the children of Israel were just weak and ungrateful for all God had done for them I should just look in the mirror. I am that woman sometimes.

I am just like the Israelites wandering in the desert. I beg for peace and mercy and am provided with it, yet I still complain. I don’t bother to pray for rest, even though it sounds nice, yet God sees to it that I get the rest I need and then some and I struggle to take advantage of it.

Love appears. In the midst of my whining I am overtaken with calm. It is the moment that the few believed and God took them into the Promised Land. It is my moment to take a deep breath and feel the refreshment from the tips of my toes to the top of my being. And we begin again.

Israel becomes a great and powerful nation. I become a joy filled child of God.

Israel sees miracles. My miracles are sitting right next to me giggling over a book that moos.

Israel falls. I will fail again.

God redeems Israel. I am given new life.

One more day, in the grip of grace.

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The First Day is the Worst Day

February 4, 2014

The first day home is hard.

I recently spent 7 months pouring myself into a contract job.

I knew it wasn’t forever (I have 3 kids, one on the way and a husband who travels for work, the reality of my life says living with balance and with my family’s best interest in mind, I don’t work full time!).

I knew it would end and I would return to the home that is a place of residence but also my current vocation. I knew, but the first day home is hard.

I did the school run, the meals, had a prenatal check up and I swung by my old desk to give the new person a hand. I went to the store, penned some words to sweet friends and even did some ordinary chores. Yet, I felt a little empty. A little lost.

As I waited for my son to dismiss from school I realized this is a somewhat sad reflection on the state of my heart today.

How much space did I let my job take up in my soul? Now that it is gone what is left? Did I spend any productive time in those busy months to be still, reflect and grow or did I just fill a void that really needs some attention?

In my best moments I remember that life comes down to knowing who you are and whose you are. In my best moments I live that out. In my best moments I know that being for God and doing for God and just doing are all very different things.

Yet in my human moments, I like to fill hard spaces with tangible evidence that I have worth. In my human moments I fall incredibly short of my own expectations (which speaks nothing of how I live up to what God wants for me.) In my human moments I’m reminded of how incredibly fallen I am.

If my Identity is truly in the One Above, my struggle to adjust to such great yet simple change should be rhythmic and life giving because I know I am not defined by the circumstances of my life today but by the life I am living for eternity.

For those in the midst of change, be human but remember grace. The first day is the hardest but grace presses on.

Today I am reminded of these beautiful lyrics by Jason Gray…

I am not who I was
I am being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy
And I’m dearly loved
I am new

Forgiven beloved
Hidden in Christ
Made in the image of the Giver of Life
Righteous and holy
Reborn and remade
Accepted and worthy, this is our new name

This is who we are now…

Jason Gray
“I Am New”

PS – Back to blogging/reflecting/thinking out loud after a long break…thanks for stopping by :)

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