Empathy versus Knowing

“So then, as we have an opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  Galatians 6:10


I want to fully understand a situation before I move on to the next thing.  This can be both good and bad.  For the good, it is so I can be helpful or encouraging in some way.  The bad, is that I will ruminate over it until I can come to some conclusion.   And in turn, I want for others to come to an understanding when it comes to my situation.  Unfortunately, this does not always happen.


The first several months of my daughter’s life were extra stressful beyond the usual adjustment of being a first time mother.  I was lacking sleep and had postpartum depression, and my daughter’s health was in question.  The feelings I had were anger and anxiety.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t very nice to a lot of family and friends and they were not understanding and took it personally.


My husband and I took our daughter to visit the specialist and I could feel I was coming down with a UTI (urinary tract infection (sorry for the TMI)).  I felt horrible and I was in a lot of pain.  It was a late Friday morning and I knew I needed to get to an urgent care before the masses would enter at 5:00 p.m. or I would be stuck there for hours.  But when you have a baby, you can’t just drop everything.   Finally, it took 2 hours before I could leave the house and take care of my needs.


I made it to the urgent care and thankfully only had about a half and hour wait.  It was confirmed that I had what I thought and he wrote me a prescription.  The doctor seemed to know I was not doing well besides the obvious reason I was there.  He asked, “how are things with the baby?”  I burst into tears and vented for about 5 minutes.  He sat there, not filling out my chart or looking at his watch, he really listened.


The doctor said,  “I know what you are going through and it is hard.  I promise you will adjust and feel normal again.  But don’t expect others to understand postpartum depression, especially if they never had it.  It is time for you to take care of yourself and your baby and those insensitive people will get over it.”


There are situations that people get wrapped up in life and you wonder why would they feel the way they do or get involved.  But they do.  Some mothers get postpartum depression.  It isn’t because they have nothing better to do, it unfortunately happens.  Just like when you have anxiety and people say, “just relax”.  Well, no kidding, I didn’t think of that…here’s the thing, we don’t want it either!


Once I let myself understand why people didn’t get me, I concentrated on what was necessary; and that I would treat others the same way when it came to a situation I didn’t understand.  I was at a bible study at church and saw a friend that seemed to be missing in action.  She had a cast on her broken ankle and was in the middle of a bitter divorce.  She explained the situation and the timeline of it.  I thankfully, have never been divorced or hopefully ever will.  But I let her talk, just like that urgent care doctor let me do.  


I gave her a hug and told her that if she needed anything, I was there for her.  She texted me later that day and said, “thank you for letting me vent.  I just needed someone to listen and not tell me what to do or that I was doing something wrong.”  There is always a time and a place for advice and guidance.  But sometimes, we don’t need help, just to be heard.


Lesson Learned:  Let’s listen a little more than we talk and try to be empathetic instead of knowing.



“Dear Heavenly Father, I know you hear me, especially in my times of need.  Help me to be that for others when they need to be heard.  Show us what I need to focus on and not be distracted.   In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

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