Morning Meditation: Empathy

It was the weirdest thing. We were inseparable. Sixth-grade BFF’s that did everything together. Back in the dark ages, sixth grade was still a part of elementary school so the three of us, we were “it” – the “in crowd,” the teacher’s pets, etc. at our tiny elementary school in Sawmills, NC.

Then, one day on the playground (literally), everything changed.

Instead of walking outside as a group like always, they were nowhere to be found. They had hung back to be at the end of the line.  Not knowing our friendship status had changed, I waited on them.

I kept waiting.

They kept avoiding.

Finally, when they could no longer avoid me, they quickly walked past me, turning their heads as if I wasn’t there. Details about the remainder of the story are sketchy. What isn’t sketchy in my memory is the feelings of confusion, anger, and hurt as what was once my “best friends” became like complete strangers.

I learned much later that they told another person that they just didn’t want to be friends with me as we went into middle school because I would “bring them down”. Since I decided to do band instead of cheerleading, they didn’t want to associate with me. “Band geeks” were not the “in-thing.”

40 years later I can look back at that situation with wisdom I didn’t have at that age.

The conclusion? Sometimes people’s actions are just mean. Which, in turn, causes them to seem mean.

There. I said it.

Even acknowledging it feels a little “un-Jesus-like”.

But, unfortunately, it is the truth.

When we (West Church LKN) polled people to see what message series they’d be most interested in to kick off the new year, the overwhelming response was the series around how to deal with difficult/mean people in our lives.

It’s sad but true. We all have difficult relationships that we have to navigate. Relationships that frankly, we have no control over because they are at the mercy of someone else’s actions. We will all encounter people throughout our lifetimes whose actions are mean. So did Jesus. In fact, some folks killed him. It’s really difficult to imagine anything that could possibly be meaner than that. The one who did no harm to anyone, killed.

As we begin to dive into how to manage difficult relationships, I encourage you to identify people in your life that seem mean. Recognizing it is the first step in working through it. Getting even isn’t the answer. It actually feels pretty crappy! That’s tomorrow’s “Part 2”. But trust me, for a lot of reasons, we need to work through how we deal with it when people are mean. It can be a real life-changer.

Grace and Peace,