Nazareth Protestant Community
January 30, 2016
This semester I'm enrolled in an online course called "The Living Brave Semester," being taught by researcher and author, Brene Brown. (If you aren't familiar with Brene, here is a good place to start.) The first part of the course centers on her research in her book, Daring Greatly, and this week we are focusing on empathy. She is blowing my mind. Here's why:
She describes the attributes of empathy in 5 parts. Imagine having a conversation with someone you care about who has just gone through something difficult:
1. Perspective Taking - We ask questions and try to learn about the way in which another person sees the world. We can't get rid of the lenses by which we see the world, but we can stop and listen and try to learn from others.
2. Stay out of judgment - we tend to judge others in those areas in which we are most susceptible to shame. What is the thing in your life that you beat yourself up about the most? That's likely to be the thing that you are most likely to judge others for.
3. Recognize emotion - What is the other person feeling? This is different than how the other person is making you feel.
4. Communicate emotion - Can you reflect back what the other person is feeling? This isn't taking on the fullness of the other person's emotion or letting the other person's problem keep you up at night. This is being able to genuinely say, "Wow. That must be really difficult and awful. I'm sorry."
5. Mindfulness - Pay attention. Empathy requires that we be present with people and that we listen carefully.
None of this is terribly mind blowing on its own. But what really got to me in this was just how much we as a society and how much I can really stink at genuinely showing up and being empathic. We tend to be pretty good at sympathy, which is feeling pity for someone. It's a removed feeling that doesn't require any real listening or understanding on our part. We do a lot of sympathy. Hallmark has sympathy cards covered. And it's never a bad thing to let someone know that we are thinking of them. But a lack of empathy--a lack of truly trying to see the world through someone else's eyes and understanding what someone is going through and feeling--has led to the extreme polarization that we see present all over our society. We objectify other people and turn them into objects to fear or hate or judge instead of trying to see them for who they are--people, like us, who feel and dream just like we do. Justice and dialogue and peace aren't possible without empathy. Sympathy won't get us there. Merely feeling badly for a person or a group of people won't get the train toward justice on tracks. But empathy is a good place to start.
Empathy is a learned skill. Jesus exemplified it over and over again as he listened to people, was present with them, and spoke to the heart of their pain and their burdens. Let's try practicing it this week and see where it leads us.
Tuesdays @ 9:15AM in GAC 151
Join us for our weekly gathering with Nazareth Catholic and Protestant Communities. The next Divine Doughnuts will be on Tuesday, February 2, 2016.
If you have not had a chance to attend, take advantage of this sweet opportunity this year.
Prayer, Reflection, and Exploration
Spring Break service retreat to Clairvaux Farm! March 6-12, 2016
Who will we be serving? Deep Roots at Clairvaux Farm is a community that aims to serve children and families affected by homelessness and poverty. They provide transitional housing, educational opportunities, and spiritual support to families in need.
What will we be doing? We will provide support by completing necessary construction and clean-up projects and interacting with Clairvaux residents. We also take a day to explore Washington D.C. and meet with representatives from the National Coalition for the Homelessness.
If you are looking for a way to engage your faith and serve in the spirit of Christ over this spring break, I encourage to come and by and pick up an application at GAC 164 or to email firstname.lastname@example.org to get an electronic application. This is a life changing opportunity to serve others and live in community for a week.
Naz Christian Fellowship (NCF)
Stay tuned for information about NCF activities for the Spring 2016 semester!
NCF also offers rides to three local churches. If you are interested in getting a ride to church contact Nadia at email@example.com
"NCF is a community that welcomes and supports one another by modeling Christ in service to others."