Sunday, March 25, 2018

Empathy. Compassion. Kindness.

Earlier this week, the first day of Spring, I took a snow day from work. And being at home in peace in quiet gives me time to catch up on some thinking. I was taken to examine the difference between some basic human concepts, and how we desperately need more in our would.

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Compassion: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
Kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

Can one feel compassion without empathy, or vice versa? A high level of empathy can feel like absorbing another person’s pain, and can potentially cause one to turn away without compassionate action. Compassion, on the other hand, doesn't require us to really understand or feel the emotions of another, only that we care and usually act on it. Kindness can be something we can practice even when we feel neither empathy nor compassion. Christians are called to be compassionate & kind, whether we empathize or not, but I believe that having a good level of compassion and empathy—not just kindness—can make us a more altruistic society, seeking peaceful but meaningful balances.

In a world of social media & electronic communication, we can learn so much more about the world around us, and to understand the lives & societies of others. The other side of that coin is our inability to hear the tones, see the facial expressions and body language of the person behind the keyboard, and that so often leaves us without empathy or compassion for them.
Empathy is an elastic thing. The empathy center of our brain, the amygdala, has the capacity to grow—and the capacity to shrink. If we are not actively trying to empathize, to understand someone else's story, point of view, or pain, then our capacity to empathize, and possibly the capacity to have compassion, also diminishes. That's a dangerous place for a society, and a place that I feel (through my sometimes overly-active amygdala!!) our society and communities may be reaching, if they haven’t already.

Being highly empathetic can have drawbacks—it can be painful, it's hard to create good boundaries, and it's hard to confront others (not because we don't like consequences but because we are highly sensitive to how we might hurt someone), and I am glad for those around me that can help me sometimes recognize when a high level of empathy stands in the way of an appropriate action. But if I had to choose having too high empathy versus none at all, every time I choose the inconvenient, messy, sometimes overly passionate, sometimes painful empathy.

For us as leaders, parents, teachers, we need to be developing & nurturing empathy in ourselves and in our children, students, and those we mentor. Empathy, kindness and compassion are vital all on their own, but I believe that empathy, kindness & compassion combined is what we need for changing our world for the better.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Round 5! Honduras 2018 & a setback

I can't believe we're here already, starting our team meetings, bible study and fundraising for our 5th trip to the Manuelito Project in Honduras. It's really incredible to watch these youngsters grow. We first visited in 2013, and some of those young teens are now maturing into young adults: attending trade schools, completing high school, hoping of college.These are things they could never do without the hope and opportunity offered by places like Manuelito. And some of the little ones are becoming pre-teens and teens, developing very typical teenage personalities, playful, hopeful, ambitious.....

I wonder every year what my 'job' will be, what will God have me focus on, learn or teach. Each year, it's something vastly different. Hearing testimonies from the children and working with them has strengthened my faith, but also my ability to help others in our own community at home. Sharing my testimony with them has given a voice to my own past, and allowed me to find another new way to help others. 

Unfortunately, our year has started a little rocky as Jason recently broke his leg in 2 places (fibula and ankle) and potentially needs surgery. THANKFULLY this is far enough away from our trip that he has time to heal, but it will greatly impact the work he can do between now and then, both during the day in his job as a fabricator/running our business, and for our active fundraisers, such as washing cars and so on. New plans are afoot (seriously, no pun intended), but as we usually take several months to gather all the funds, this setback puts a sense of urgency to getting started.

So.... our list and fun begins. Team car washes will happen as weather allows, and we'll post those on facebook. I'll be selling crocheted lap blankets, baby blankets and throws. Jason will hopefully have some copper crosses for sale, and maybe if we ask nicely, he will be able to make some soap.

Check out a couple of the upcoming fundraisers, some you can join in from anywhere in the USA!

For a simple donation of any amount, follow the link! This is a secure payment through Paypal, using a Debit or Credit card, if you don't have a paypal account.

Souper Bowl Sunday! 

If you are local to the Butler PA area, you can order Soup from us! Make your selection and pick up options at this Google form!

NATIONWIDE! Valentine's candy sales 

Sarris is a Pennsylvania chocolatier that makes delicious chocolate. Valentine's candy sales are underway and ship direct to you anywhere in USA!! Use Group ID 10-3221

My Trades of Hope website

I've loved learning about the artisans that make these products, mostly women who have been given an opportunity to learn a trade and to become independent, to send their children to school. Some have been rescued from trafficking situations or from forced labor. Check out the beautiful jewelry and other items, supporting those women and our mission trip! 25% of every sale will support our trip!

Share with friends!