Empathy stems from experience.
’Tis the season for illness. Even as I clean up vomit and work with all the sickies, as a mom I have been blessed to seldom be sick myself. So when my husband was recently flattened by the flu, I dutifully went about the business of piling blankets and rice bags while he fevered, giving meds and liquids, and finding extra pillows to prop him up so he could breathe while sleeping. But admittedly, part of me was thinking, “Seriously, is it really THAT bad?”
Then my Littles caught it. Two vivacious preschoolers became listless and silent for a total of five days.
Somewhere during run of lethargic preschooler days, my immune system caved.
And I was taught a lesson.
Day one was just a cough. I still kept up with my chores but sat down more. Day two basics were covered, but I laid down a lot. Day three I couldn’t really hold up my head without my hands propping it up. Nights were peppered with fevered hallucinations and full-bodied coughs.
By the time I crawled out of that illness pit, I thought, “OK, I get it. Now that I have experienced it, I get it. I will know better how to help the rest of the family if they get sick.”
Bling! The lightbulb turned on. Empathy stems from experience.
“And he shall go forth suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” (Alma 7:11–12)
From my week of empathy development, it struck me that not only did Jesus Christ save us from death and hell, but He literally experienced every temptation and pain we would suffer. Therefore, His empathy runs deep. He knows EXACTLY how to succor us through whatever is happening if we will turn to Him.
I get it now.
Have a Merry Christmas! Our Savior lives!