THERE is sometimes a reason people cannot hear us when we want to be listened to; when we just have to be heard. Sometimes we have exhausted all their energy and we have consumed all their goodwill. They could be our best friend, our spouse, one of our children, a parent, a boss, or a subordinate. But when we have gone over and over and over again on an issue – as they finally tire of our complaints – then we will hear what will be a stern discouragement: but it’s a rebuke we need!
I have found my wife this way when she has become completely worn of my complaints. There is no empathy left. I’m left thinking, “You heartless wife!” When, in all truth-inspired reality, I’ve been the one to exhaust her upon my insistence to travel that well-worn and foot-beaten track of selfish pride. I’m deluded, of course, and she will patiently wait for God to catch up with me.
Rarely do I stride willingly into a place of derision against God – where God will say, “You shall never enter my rest” (Psalm 95:8-11) – but I do, by my words and actions, occasionally get tempted and somewhat seduced.
One place where empathy just does not fit is in the presence of self-pity born of pride.
Opening Their Ears Again
There is a way we can be listened to; a way we can be reasonably heard.
We step down from the podium of pride and we take on the armour of a servant willing to serve the person we come to speak with. Relationships cannot subsist on a one way flow – one always giving, the other seeking to be received all the time. It’s just unsustainable.
Opening the ears of those who once cared but now perhaps don’t at the moment is about repentance – acknowledging the source of our self-pity (fear, envy, jealousy, anger, etc) – that self-pity was there and it was taking us to death.
People cannot help but turn back to us when we have acknowledged the truth – that we did wrong – we abused their goodness and grace – and we now wished we hadn’t.
One place empathy just doesn’t fit is in the presence of self-pity born of pride. How can someone continue to support us when we are so completely and so conceitedly full of ourselves? But when we acknowledge our wrong, repenting of it, it is amazing just how caring the one who used to care becomes.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.