Thursday, May 7, 2009

Empathy

Just because I'm in a bit of a funk doesn't mean you should have to suffer Jami-withdrawal. Here is an older post of mine that applies even more today than the day I wrote it.



In the eighties, my sister, my mother and I, separated by hundreds of miles, had a bonding ritual. Each week we would watch "Star Trek: The Next Generation" then call each other to have a little trekkie chat. My sister and I were completely unified in our mockery of Counselor Deanna Troi, an empath, a really irritating empath. She'd stand on the bridge, stare out into space and look pained. "I sense confusion [pain/sorrow/negative emotion du jour]" We were fairly certain that a good laxative would take care of poor Deanna's constant suffering.

Recently, I've felt a bit like the well-intentioned, but infinitely mockable Deanna as I stare into the vast Internet and feel the suffering. I wander around peeking into the lives of amazing people, their marriages, children, jobs. Their tragedies. It hurts and a laxative has given no relief. The pain is spiritual: the death of a loved one, the loss of faith, mental illness, disability, unemployment, poverty, pregnancy complications, the sorrows of real people I have come to love.

I promised when I was baptized that I was willing to mourn with those who mourn, to comfort those who stand in need of comfort. When a local friend has a miscarriage, I can hold her, cry with her, bring her a casserole and some helpful herbs. When an Internet friend suffers a miscarriage, all I can do is cry and pray that someone will hold her, bring her a casserole, and maybe some helpful herbs.

Perhaps there is some wisdom in the concept of not becoming emotionally involved with strangers, but as I ponder the Savior taking upon himself all of the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain of the world, I have a have a hard time believing that emotional distance is how we become more Christ-like. So I pray and occasionally send a poem. It's really all I can do which is, I guess, better than what Deanna, the hand-wringer, would do.

Life is pain. The joy that the scriptures talks about is not smiling through the death of a child, or humming happily as someone relearns how to walk. It is an eternal joy that comes when Jesus who vicariously suffered for us, who knows and loves us, removes the pain, brings peace to the troubled, heals the scars, and makes us whole again.

12 comments:

Kristina P. said...

Great post, Jami.

Off topic, but are you going to see the new Star Trek movie? It looks awesome.

Annette Lyon said...

Really great. And so true.

Thora said...

My prayers have definitely expanded since I started reading blogs. Although I still feel self conscious enough including "strangers" in prayers, that I only do it in personal ones, so my family doesn't know I'm weird.

Jo said...

I love Deanna, I am sorry. I won't make fun of her. My best friend and I call each other Imzadi.
But I suppose like Deanna, each of us comtemplate removing ourselves from the pain. Your post is a good reminder why we shouldn't avoid it.

Heidi Ashworth said...

Sorry you're in a funk. I know that because I'm so much like Deanna. Wait--oops! You said you were in a funk, didn't you? (and here I thought I was all spiritual) Personally, I can't wait for the new movie!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

WOW! That was really lovely. Beautiful. Sweet.

LOVED IT! You da bomb, girl!

LY!

Melanie J said...

I know how you feel. Sometimes I feel helpless to do more but I really believe that people feel the force of our prayers, so I try to always let them know I'm at least praying for them.

Papa D said...

Jami-withdrawal is not a good thing. *grin*

Thanks for this wonderful post. It is so true.

Meredith said...

Well said!

mindyluwho said...

Beautiful post Jami.

April said...

I hate funks, but love that others have helped me through them. Ice cream does help. Love your blog!

Youngblood4ever said...

Okay fellow Trekkie- I even went to a convention with my dad when I was younger. Shh, don't tell anyone. They might think I was a dork.

Thank you for the inspirational thoughts. They really lifted my heart tonight. Funny thing is that since my blog is mostly about my family (well, really about my kids) I don't always share my innermost struggles. You hit this one on the head and I wanted to say thanks!