Tag Archives: empathy

Why Share Your Struggles

Why Share Your Struggles?

February 8, 2018

Imagine facing a mountain. You arch your neck to look up and can’t make out the top. All you see is steep, rocky terrain and slippery slopes draped in thick clouds. You stand before it numb, overwhelmed and uncertain how to move forward. 

Then, you feel a hand take yours. Suddenly, you make out a thin, winding path carved into the mountain. You notice the clouds clearing slowly and finally take a deep breath. You see the top!

You turn and there is a close friend, softly smiling in support. You cry and embrace them. You realize you are not alone. Your strength increases gradually, as you hear a still voice gently whisper, “You are loved. You can do this.”

Dear friend, it’s time to #HealLouder.

Do you find yourself repeating painful habits related to grief or past hurts? Are you unsure how to reemerge from the cloud of numbness or apathy you feel around you? Are you afraid of judgment or worried about disappointing others? Have you convinced yourself that keeping it in is the only way to survive?

You are brilliant, exquisite and about to embrace more of what makes you unique.
No more silent suffering.

We are called to empathy. We are calling to gather with others. We are called to humble ourselves—to share our experiences, to discover life lessons and to help one another thrive (not just survive).

Consider this: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV

If you happen to be a Christian, you may need to hear this most. Too many “churchgoers” fall into the trap of not sharing their gritty, disappointing struggles. They fear judgment, feel like failures for having issues and don’t want the spotlight turned on their lives. I’ve been there. But it’s nowhere to live and it denies the healing power of Jesus. To you, I say this:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 2:2 NIV

Hold on to that “renewing of your mind.” Is not the Spirit a gift for instruction, support and healing? See how “test” is built into this verse, as God knows we will stumble to learn. Are you craving transformation? I encourage you to trust that a past choice, a present moment, a lingering hurt does not dictate your future. Open your mind to hope and your arms to support. In fact, by sharing your struggles, you may inspire others to do the same.

Embark on a nurturing journey from hurt to hope that helps you see the infinite beauty you possess, hear the remarkable voice within and achieve a revival of hope.

How do you begin? Share your burden by sharing your story. Don’t carry it one more day.

The weight will lessen when you reach for a hand. The sting of pain will begin to dull when you keep it from festering inside you. The light of hope will shine brighter when you open your heart to the loving support of trusted friends.

Please share your burden below, tag it on Instagram with #HealLouder or email me (worldneedshope @ gmail .com). I would love to pray for and support you.

Bold Year Ahead and Values for World Needs Hope

Word of the Year

December 30, 2017

One of my best friends loves to have a power word for each coming year. She agonizes over it, journals about it and, after months of contemplation, embraces it with immense gusto. And I love the anticipation of being one of the first to hear her linguistic verdict. I devour it, examine it, applaud it and marvel at her.

She will sagely tell you that “release” is not a word you want to choose and that “fear” has surprisingly positive, albeit uncomfortable, outcomes. She’s a gem, an inspiration and a quirky curiosity. I love the process and her.

If you are a long-time reader, you will know that I pluck a word at the last minute and stand by it all year. That process is quintessentially me. My word feels instantly woven into my coat pocket, cinched around my wrist and stitched onto my heart. What is this new year’s word, you ask? I honestly don’t know yet. It comes like a surprise blast of confetti between December 31 and January 1, when it’s ready to knock my holiday trimmed socks off.

When I began thinking about my friend’s word dilemma a few weeks ago, I briefly entertained my own introspection. But it was fleeting. What did happen, instead, was profound internal banter about my core values for The World Needs Hope. Here they are for transparency, so that you know what I stand for (if you’re new here) and what I embody as we move into 2018:

  1. Honor Individuals (respect)
  2. Give Empathy (compassion)
  3. Lighten Lives (joy)
  4. Share Hope (renewal)

You matter. Your story matters. Your soul matters. Your journey forward matters.

If you choose a word of your own for 2018, please share below! I’ll do the same, once it makes itself known.

10 Posts for 10 Years: #2

January 23, 2014

If the eyes are windows to the soul, then my father’s eyes told epic tales.

I “focus” on the eyes now because of the pivotal importance eyes play in empathy, in hope, in knowing a person and in loving unconditionally. The eyes show purity of emotion, they reveal attention, they help us to connect and they transform experiences into memories.

Dad's EyesMy father’s eyes . . . although damaged by pressure and the bombardment of strenuous work, still gleamed when he spoke. No, they danced.

By some uncanny knowledge (or, perhaps, a kindred innocence), his eyes caught us kids in our hijinks. It’s all about the way he knew to raise a brow, sneak in a wink, pinch them shut during allergy season or roll them at one of my notoriously bad jokes.

No eyes will ever see me for exactly who/what I am or love his family just the same. His eyes were accepting, stern, playful, tired and ever watchful. They were hazel, like mine, but with different stars circling the center . . . more feisty brown flecks. The crinkly creases at the edge deepened but never aged him.

I miss how his eyes looked to me with the responsibility of being his eldest child, to me as his goofy sarcastic buddy and to me as his spiritual student.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,” Ephesians 1:18

The Wheels on the Bus

May 24, 2013

Go round and round. Round and round, round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round. All through the town.

Don’t you love the songs of childhood, when honesty, innocence and discovery were the classes of life, and the smallest encounters meant the grandest of stories?

Presently, as I type this, I am spinning along the eastern coast of New Zealand on a bus driven by a wonderful driver named Steve. Steve is talented. How do I know? I’m on the side closest to the ocean and he hasn’t nudged a guardrail yet. (wink) Plus, he’s teaching us about the local language and scenic spots along the way. So many stories woven into the land.

That takes me to mine. You see, the bus has taught me a few things as I travel all over this epic countryside. Like those spinning wheels carrying passengers to new ports of call, our lives and our exchanges with one another spin into new conversations and new connections. When “trapped” on a bus together over a long distance, you see the sleep patterns, restlessness, scenic interests and snacking habits of others. It’s a fun exploration, if you welcome it.

Spinning deeper, you also find out a lot about your comfort zone, your humming voice of judgment and your ability to (pardon me) “roll with it.” Now, this can either take you into a tail spin of increasing frustration, which I witnessed. Or, it can spin you toward personal growth. Let me share an example:

The only seat on a city bus was next to a man who looked quite haggard, with unwashed hair, the permeating smell of old cigarettes and an overstuffed grocery bag. If I chose to remain standing that would have been, in my mind at least, shunning this man unnecessarily. I’m glad I sat down. Turns out that he was very nice, and I learned about cycling and his family. And that was just our brief exchange before he hopped off the bus. I had to ask myself, “What in me made me hesitate?” Petty self-righteousness, fear of cooties or, perhaps, a lack of willingness to shut my eyes and open my heart. Good lesson.

From that moment on, I made it a point to do an empathy scan on the people around me. When a woman recoiled at a man who smelled like wet cats on a very rainy day, I wondered if he was caring for orphan kittens, visiting his mom’s place to help out or heading into the city for promise of a new job. (Sidebar: I ran into him later. Turns out he was going from place to place and hard-pressed to buy a cup of coffee.)

It’s not always the people who seem to be having a rough financial go of it. I saw a well-put-together young woman who held up the bus (as I myself had done on several occasions figuring out where I needed to go) and got a few glares from passengers. I imagined she may be excited about her first job out of college, feeling a bit frazzled after a troubling conversation with her partner or simply overslept after cleaning the house to prepare for a surprise visit from brother on leave from the military. (Sidebar: Turns out she left her wallet at home, her bus pass expired and she just needed a few of these coins they call dollars.)

Empathy is the great equalizer. It calms our judgmental side, exercises our compassion and lets us use this funny thing called an imagination. It also pushes us to grow.

Realigning Priorities

May 10, 2013

I have a challenge for you: Limit your total personal Internet use (cell, computer and tablet) to one hour tomorrow. Think it’s easy? I’ve got one more caveat for you: You only get that hour in one location (home, cafe, whatever). That’s every text, every call and every poke on Facebook. Let me know the result by commenting here. And . . . go.

Why? Well, I am seeing an amazing thing in New Zealand . . . people talking, people playing with their kids, people looking up at the sky, people eating without a device sitting on the table, people not plugged in at every moment. I’ll prove it. Here is a photo of the mirrored cafe ceiling:

Like Where's Waldo? Bonus points if you can find me.

Like Where’s Waldo? Bonus points if you can find me.

In addition, I counted a few minutes worth of drivers and not one was texting while barely looking up. Yes, I have observed people walking around talking on their phones but it’s the minority. I even made eye contact (remember that) with over a dozen people in the last five minutes. I’m baffled. It’s like life exists for these Kiwis. Huh.

I’ll call myself out first. I’m a text, talk, walk and “multitask” offender. My dear brother can testify. In fact, momentary panic set in last night when I saw, “59 minutes and 50 seconds of your daily wifi allowance remains” as I logged in at my accommodation. “What?! Daily?” I thought. No ding, brrrring, vvvvrrrrr, notification-a-palooza? I felt alone, I felt jolted and I even felt a hint of judgment.

Why? I have become oddly accustomed to seeing my world through a four-inch screen. I was constantly looking down not ahead. I was looking to a device to gauge things not my inner processor (a.k.a. intuition). And here’s the thing, I’m still adjusting. I posted, pinged and messaged like a mad woman for the hour I was allotted.

Now, I’m typing and watching the rain fall. Instead of headphones, I hear birds and laughter. Gotta say, as a writer, umbrellas are fun little microcosms to watch and, attention Phoenix friends, people don’t actually melt in the rain. Funnier still, the cafe is filled with books, conversation and sipping. I’m the only soul on a laptop. Again, huh.

I suspect our “civilized” priorities are askew. Remember the principle of want vs. need? It’s a childhood tool we learn to help us retain awareness. In order to help the world hope, it seems I need to refresh us all, myself included, on how and where to focus. You have to have a shred of attention in order to exercise empathy, be present with those who are hurting and seek your bliss. I can tell you that technology is amazing, useful and a blessing. I can also tell you that digitized reality can distract us from the heart of humanity.

Here are a few photos of life unplugged:

Park on Devonport coastline

Park on Devonport coastline

My furry companion at the cafe

My furry companion at the cafe

Reflecting on the beauty of life

Reflecting on the beauty of life

I know dialing down instead of up is tough. I’m here for you. Perhaps wifi can begin to stand for “we invest fully in” living with presence. Here’s hoping.