Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
I know that personality profiles like Myers-Briggs are no longer in vogue, but I still believe it has value. Part of what we learn from the Myers-Briggs Personality Profile is that some people are naturally more in tune with empathy toward others. Once again, writer Zat Rana, enlightens us. Rana reminds us that, “Empathy is one of the defining traits of mammals.” Even dolphins feel empathy. There are any number of stories of dolphins coming to the rescue of people being attacked by sharks. Dolphins put their own lives in danger just to help human beings.
Rana continues by saying, “The reason most commonly cited for the development of empathy is parental care.” It is vitally important for a parent to figure out the body language and expressions of infants and children in order to provide proper care. Empathy in this regard is a gift, as part of the evolutionary process. But like all things, there can be too much of a good thing.
Empathy isn’t always a positive. Empathy is not fair. Whoever cries or expresses the best story gets the support, sometimes even when the poor storyteller is in the right. Further, if an empathetic person cannot feel empathy for a particular individual, the empathizer tends to blame the person he/she cannot relate to. Empathy can also cause a great deal of undue suffering. If one person empathized with everyone with whom she/he came into contact, the person would literally go insane. Empathy requires control and limits.
Rana concludes by saying, “True morality and true sensitivity are about how you care – your actions, your behaviors, and ultimately, your impact.” Empathy and other feelings without reason is dangerous. Empathy and reason need to be in balance for your life to be more honest and in control.
Today, pray for the wisdom to recognize the gift of empathy in your life. But also pray for the wisdom to know when to have empathy and when to defer to reason. Remember, your self-control and good mental health is important, and feelings should not be allowed to overwhelm you. When empathy and reason are in balance, your life is whole, and your relationships are stronger. Ask the Holy Spirit to provide the wisdom to bring balance to your mind and your heart. Then, you will serve God, others, and yourself in the best possible way.