Apparently I’m an empath. Take some of the things in the linked article with a grain of salt, but for the most part I identify with the article’s definition of an empath. Early on I’ve always known I feel things deeply*. In reading books, in listening to music, in hearing other people’s stories I feel these things from my head to my toes. It’s almost as if other people’s pain, joy, and frustrations are not just theirs, but my own as well.
A pattern in my life is that I love stories. More on this later, but essentially I am drawn to stories; whether it be through books, songs, movies, musicals, etc. My personal favorite stories are those of other people. You’ll often find me asking other’s about their lives. I am so interested in the lives of other people that I oftentimes get lost in theirs and forget about my own**.
Apparently, we empaths love to care well for others. We enjoy processing with people, we love speaking life into others, and we live for helping others heal. We love probing, asking the harder questions, digging deeper, sitting in tension, standing in solidarity… WE LOVE when we are invited to feel other’s joys and sorrows. It’s a beautiful thing, I think, to have the privilege of caring for others. I see it as seeing people the way God sees His people; with love and care. Definitely not saying the way I love is perfect either, I am still human and make mistakes… but when God gives you eyes to see the world and His people the way He does, it’s such a blessing, because you in turn get to draw closer to His own heart.
Here is where the empath life sucks. From now on I’ll be talking more about my own story as an empath (I don’t want to generalize my own experiences to those of others). BECAUSE of the intentional way I love, I have often placed the same expectations on others. Okay friend, I have loved on you so much, can you please just love me the same way? Here is when I start playing that waiting game of seeing if the other person can care for me the way I want to be cared for. Some people pull through, but other’s don’t. When the latter happens, my heart comes crashing down. Every hope and expectation that I have placed so high on a person comes tumbling down the pedestal I set it on.
It’s a lonely life caring for people and not being cared for in return. It’s disappointing to know that people only want you around when they need you for something. It HURTS when a person doesn’t return the love you give so lavishly on them. But then I am reminded of Jesus and what pain He endures and has endured since the beginning of time. What better example is there than that of God sending His only Son to die on a cross so that we might have a relationship with Him? What greater sacrifice is there than that? God has pursued His people relentlessly since creation, and we foolishly deny and turn away from Him. I cannot even imagine the sorrow of being rejected by your own creation endlessly.
But oh, the beauty of God’s pursuit for His children. How endlessly wonderful it it to be loved and forgiven and cherished by the hands that created the universe. I use that last phrase a lot, but I am so astounded that I in my imperfection and ugliness, am loved deeply by a perfect God. His mercy and grace (words so often misconstrued and taken for granted) for His people are so so beautiful.
Wow, what a detour, but it’s hard to talk about my own experiences without mentioning the God. What I’m trying to say is that in sitting my sadness from when others have failed me, I have learned a lot more about what God’s heart looks like. That actually in my disappointment, I have drawn closer to the heart of God because I can (to a small small extent) feel the same pain He feels.
The challenge now is what to do afterwards. Do I continue to love the people who disappoint and use me the way I have been, or do I let them go? Is there some happy medium? Do I continue pursuing others the way God does, or do I draw a boundary? There is no easy answer for this, and I’m still trying to answer these questions myself. But, I am playing it by ear at the moment. I’m learning to bend my heart to God so I can hear what He has to say, and in doing that, I get the blessing of rooting my hopes and expectations in Him. Where I have fallen short is that I have been placing all my expectations on people, when in fact I should have been rooting them deeply into the only one who can never fail me, my Creator, my Father, my God.
Okay yeah, so this is it. This is me uprooting my expectations and letting my hope in Jesus grow and flourish. This is me continuing to love lavishly on people the way God has loved us. This is also me being tuning my ear to the Spirit to discern boundaries and to make sure that I am not trying to play god to other people. This is definitely me doing my best to point people to Christ.
Still figuring life out, folks. It’s great 😀
-Soli Deo Gloria
*like really deeply guys, I’ve cried from happiness twice in the past two weeks because I was just so happy to see people I love.
**once again more on this later (this is more a promise to myself to process this than anything else).