How can you tell God is talking to you? Everyone has their own explanation. Mine is when he repeats himself. A few weeks ago I went to the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, where Craig Groeschel spoke. One of the struggles he mentioned was empathizing with others, especially during the hard times. This was a new concept for me that I was unfamiliar with. It just isn’t a message that you hear at church much, I guess because it is difficult to teach people to “feel.” I thought about it a bit and I recognize that I do a poor job of empathizing with hurting people. In fact, I don’t even like watching sad movies. The following Tuesday, I attended my men’s bible study and we were talking about Romans 12. My new friend, Davis, was explaining that the Romans were a tough bunch. To get a visual, think about Russell Crowe in Gladiator. Paul was telling these macho, alpha males to take off their armor, love one another, laugh with those who laugh and cry with those who cry. How tough would that have been – yikes! Then, last week, when I was at the Gazelles Growth Conference, Annie McKee spoke about emotional intelligence. She once again explained the need for leaders to empathize with those around them and the value of doing so. At this point, God told me the same thing THREE TIMES over the course of three weeks. I wonder if he was trying to tell me something.
Over this period of time, I asked God to show me how to empathize, how to cry with those that cry (I don’t struggle with the laughing with those that laugh part). Today, after church, a new friend shared his story with me. It was a difficult story of his childhood and adolescence that was bold, raw and vulnerable. His story moved me. I felt a drop of the pain that he must have endured through his youth. I felt the goodness and hope that stems from him now as well. His story moved me to tears, something that I admit with a shred of embarrassment (I’m still learning here).
I feel that God has provided me with the opportunity to connect with people quickly and easily and today, I am taking that gift a little more seriously than I did before that email. I recognize that my life impacts those that I touch, whether I want it to be that way or not. I appreciate the fact that you and I are actually the hands and feet of God and that each day, we live it by the stories we share with others, the small things we do to pick one another up and the heart that is behind our actions. So, if you are living your life not feeling the highs and the lows for people around you, I pray that you ask God to show you the way. Having begun on that path, I’d say it is worth it.
photo from Britannica.com