Empathy…to stand for everything or nothing…

 

high angle photo of woman on ladder

Photo by Samantha Garrote

Empathy without a clear identity in Christ puts one in a position to stand for everything or for nothing. To understand empathy and to nurture that gift the Empath must always be aware of matching their empathy side by side with who we  who are “in” Christ Jesus. (As one who believes and follows Jesus as Lord or as one who is not a Believer.) It is paramount that we build our Christian lives upon our Identity in Christ Jesus, Truth of who we are in Him.

Empathy as well as all spiritual gifts must  be held close to and in direct correlation to God’s Word or we will get it wrong. Empathy is a wonderful  gift as long as we check and balance it or any gift with Truth.

Just between you and me

vintage black windmill during sunset

Photo by Tom Swinnen

 

What I’m trying to say is we could not have known

The life we made, the trials we have and will face

Nobody else can say they know because they don’t.

 

A step down a path, an opened door is the mystery future and past

A sorrow, a joy, a mistake, a right of choice or not

Between us we live it, two people together alone

 

Like an ancient windmill, a sentry watching it all unfold

Lying down in a field of tulips in the country side

Just between you and me it’s a beautiful work of art

And Christmas comes once more…

person holding flashlight in road

Photo by Simon Migaj

 

The crave for connection… As we approach the advent of the first coming of Christ I am reminded that in my sixty three years of life I have never observed a more isolated society even though communication avenues are more brilliant than ever. I love that we share the love of our families on Facebook as this is the most critical form of connection in the human race…though all of us cannot connect with blood family we still have a longing to belong.
There is much data out there now regarding anxiety and shame. I believe that most of us are still very uncomfortable with these very two unraveling entities. Shame unravels the deepest level of our ability to “connect” to anyone and Vulnerability, which causes anxiety,  comes with the extremely high RISK of being wounded. Connecting with another human being is that level that gives life meaning. To tell the true story of your whole heart tells who you are. Most of us guard that story due to past failures to be understood or to find ourselves left like a wounded soldier bleeding on the battlefield…while this may sound somewhat depressing I do not believe this is true…I have lived my life both ways. One, guarded from any and all who might hurt me or think me strange (which no doubt I am strange. Hal) On the other hand I have chosen to take the Vulnerable life path in my latter years and here is why…The most vulnerable person I have the deepest relationship with is Jesus Christ. He chose to be vulnerable in the hopes that those who believe in his sacrifice will always have Hope and Life…deep inside of us we all long for these two things above all else in my opinion… when I reflect on the Courage it takes to deny “shame” and embrace “vulnerability” it is mind boggling…I have messed up innumerable times attempting these two actions of life. The result is it leaves me victorious, humble, and often times “wounded” and at risk for “injury” deep down in my soul but oh my how WORTH it the victories, failures, and wounds have been! As I approach 64 years the end of the month I must say yes I have regrets and there are things I would do differently now but I do not regret one single day that God has allowed me to breathe the breath of an abundant life and to embrace the sweaty, difficult, messy parts as well as the fragrance of a rose or a daffodil in the Spring, the salty sea of Summertime, the woodsmoke smell of Fall, and the biting cold of Winter over and over again…
My Christmas wish is that I would continue to tell the story of my whole heart and that each of you would share yours too. It is the reason for those of us who believe in the Holy Birth of Jesus continue steady on…

Where Charity stands watching
And Faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks,
And Christmas comes once more.

Magen veLo Yera’e (Defender that shall not be seen.)

switched beige table lamp

Photo by 祝 鹤槐

Like silver liquid the moonlight poured over my head spilling down my back renewing my eyes and my mind…

I had stepped outside the hospital to get a breath of fresh air. It had been a long shift and my body, mind, and spirit had grown weary…

As often happens to nurses, I often received words, tokens and notes of thanks and appreciation throughout my career from patients and families, and each one is so very meaningful…

Loss is hopefully made a bit more endurable by compassion and kindness. It is perhaps the truest calling of a nurse, for inside of me lives “Magen veLo Yera’e” which in Hebrew means “Defender that shall not be seen.” Of course, that Defender is not me but the Spirit of Jesus abiding in me. For there is no one good but God as Jesus said, so I know it isn’t me doing it, but I digress…

As I look back over the past forty years my memory runs to the many wonderful people, I have had the privilege to care for and their families. For some there is a reluctance to embrace the future and losing meaning of the past. For some they linger in the pre-dawn haze digesting an outcome they perhaps always knew was coming.

The greatest gift these people have given me is the privilege and opportunity to see that God’s design of our longing to live is not a fragile thing. It is in fact the very strongest thing about us. Yes, our physical bodies wear out with time or disease. Ah, but the soul, the spirit of a person, it fights for life! We were designed for life not death and that is why the “Unseen One who defends us” is the Holy Spirit who lives within those who believe.

Jesus told his follower that He would send us the exact essence of himself in the person of the Holy Spirit to comfort us, to guide, and teach us about Him. It is the transforming phase of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that He sent us the Holy Spirit, who is unseen but defends us all the way into eternal life.

This is one of the many gifts that nursing has been to me for I have seen, I have witnessed the presence of the Magen veLo Yera’e. He is faithful. He is comfort. He is Peace. He is Jesus the Christ, the presence of the Holy God himself. Jesus is the gift of eternal life and the forever Defender of our Faith and there is a day coming for each of us when we will see Him face to face and we will know Him in Spirit and in Truth. So, when the night is long and dark and grief comes and hope seems so silent I remember the “thank you” from my patients, other human beings just like me with whom I am allowed to care for, hold a hand, say a prayer, shed a tear, and talk of our loved ones we will miss and already miss. Oh yes, there is much physical  technical data in taking of lab work, blood pressures, procedures, surgeries, and various myriads of daily physical care. But the expressions of “thank you” and the bittersweet outcomes are more than a gift.  I have been gifted with the precious sight of a Child of God being carried home in the arms of the Magen veLo Yera’e, the unseen shield, the Holy Defender of God’s precious people.

Seven months ago, my own Mother who was not acutely ill but was called home from this body while all alone was in fact not alone at all,  the unseen defender was present to the very end.
In this season of giving gifts I am like the little drummer boy…I have no gift to bring before my King but the thanksgiving of letting me know some of His children in this intimate way and being an eye witness to the presence of Magen veLo Yera’e, The unseen miraculous presence of The Holy.
So, you see there is much more to our Christmas celebration of the Jesus Child for with Him he brought all we need for life and godliness.

Ecclesiates

brown book page

Photo by Wendy van Zyl 

 

There are no new words that I can write

No way to change the world tonight

I can feel a sadness coming round again

Trying to take me someplace I’ve already been

 

I am just calling it what it is

The way God made me, I am a child of His

When loneliness visits and friends don’t call

It is best not to compromise the Truth at all

 

Contentment is not happy and sad is not depressed

I’m still so far from wisdom, always was I guess

This melancholy often drives me to my knees

It is just the way God made me, I am a child of His

The Cathedral Tree

 

snow covered green plant

Photo by Marta Dzedyshko

Like the vaults of God’s Holy temple

the blue spruce branches arch over me

Each heavily draped with new fallen snow

I kneel down in grateful prayer under the Cathedral Tree

 

I have never been one to love easily and trust

but You Oh God have loved me with perfect love

I was heavily draped in sin and you washed me white as snow

I kneel down in humility under the Cathedral Tree

 

 

 

The emptiness of my conceit and arrogance…

photo of river during daytime

Photo by Ionut Cerchia

 

As I sat in the still and In the mess

In the emptiness of my own conceit and arrogance

The old man with white hair said,

“these are your thorns to bear…”

 

When the only free person in the room

Is the one who is in chains

Then it is time to look at what man calls “justice”

Pontius Pilate could not deny his claims

 

It is in vulnerability that God’s Grace comes

It is in the mourning that the Grief is fulfilled

It is in the freedom of Truth that I want to run

It is in humility that true courage is spilled

 

 

I was flayed open with a razor sharp knife

silhouette of girl during evening

Photo by luizclas

He was the only one there in that dark still night

I was flayed open with a razor sharp knife

He said are you ready to rise from the dead?

Through sobs and his blood yes was all I said

 

He said I am the love you are counting on

I am the only One when all  others are gone

I am the one who carries you when you fall

Through doubts and sorrow I’ve paid it all

 

He is the one who  gave His all for me

He fought for me to the bloody end

And on that day when He rose again

He said I am all I have ever been

 

He held me there as life seeped in

He is everything no one else has been

He is my champion, teacher, Redeemer, and friend

He is the one I will count on until the end

 

 

 

 

 

I can’t cover up your sin

adult autumn beauty blue

Photo by Pixabay

She said I can’t go through this again

I can’t cover up your sin

Anymore…

 

She just kept walking down the road

Trying to drop that heavy load

Somewhere…

 

Oh the days go better than the nights

The prayers crack through a little light

Sometimes…

 

The storm blows in like a runaway train

Jesus is standing there calling her name

Again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where does Comfort hide on nights like this?

dark darkness loneliness mystery

Photo by Engin Akyurt

Where does Comfort hide on nights like this

when I feel all the loss and the ones I miss?

Comfort dodges me like shadows on the wall

I know I must renew my mind or else I will surely fall…

 

Fall into doubt of my firm foundation

Fall into distortion of Evil’s confrontations

Fall into fear and lies of what lay ahead

 

So I will fight for my heart with His Sword of Truth

I will fan the flame of Faith I have had since my youth

I will rejoice that His Grace is sufficient thus far

and Grace will lead me on as I travel this star…

I will kneel at the foot of His Holy Cross

I will give thanks for all I have gained and not lost

So as the Comforter whispers His command of sweet Peace

The night shadows vanish and all shadows must cease

Now I will rest in the arms of my Heavenly Dad

and fall into the best sleep there is to be had

 

…and be renewed in the spirit of your mind…  (Ephesians 4:23)