Tracy Wilde

Author & Speaker

Forward by Judah Smith

We're just eight days away from the release of my book, Finding the Lost Art of Empathy. 8 DAYS!?! I can't believe it!

I got a copy of the book in the mail today. It was my first look at the finished project. I can't really put into words how I'm feeling right now....excited and a little terrified at the same time. I've heard that being nervous and excited is the same feeling. Scientifically speaking, its the same chemical-emotional-reaction (if that's even a pseudo phrase). In other words, being nervous and excited at the same time is not a new phenomenon...so I'm not alone in this. 

I'm excited to have completed a big task. I love making to-do lists and checking each task off my list one-by-one and this was a BIG check! 

I'm nervous because this book is basically my heart in ink on pages. It's vulnerable and raw to share your beliefs, feelings, and stories with others. But it is also beyond rewarding when someone connects with your words, your pain, your experiences and says ME TOO! 

All in all, I'm looking forward to your responses, your stories, and your insight on EMPATHY! My heart and goal for this book, is not to be an exhaustive study on empathy, but to start a dialogue and hopefully encourage others to join me in the practice of empathy.

I am so beyond honored that my cousin, THE Judah Smith (New York Times Best-Selling author, pastor and speaker) agreed to write the forward for this book. I'm sure you will enjoy his thoughts on the topic of empathy. Disclaimer....my cousin tells a story from our childhood in which he remembers the details of a particular event very differently than I do. FOR THE RECORD...I did not laugh at him! At least I don't remember laughing at him. haha. You'll just have to read it to be the judge. 

Tracy xx

Finding the Lost Art of Empathy is available for pre-sale now and releases May 16, 2017 

 

Empathy Is Not Exclusive

You’ve probably read several news articles, Facebook posts, blog entries, and even some tweets and Instagram’s devoted to the division that’s currently overwhelming America. Twitter rants and conflicting news stories started to make my blood boil Saturday night. I wanted to un-follow people on social media that I had long respected. I wanted to comment on a plethora of ridiculous Facebook arguments between “so called” Christians.

But I am happy to announce I did neither. Instead, I started working on a blog entry with the attempt to delight you all. It was entitled, How Would Jesus Protest? Catchy, huh? Kind of provocative, right?  But after a few hours and only three short paragraphs and a Scripture I realized I had nothing; so instead, I turned on the T.V. and watched the newest Hallmark movie (my guilty pleasure) – it was the right decision.

 

Sunday morning I went to church and heard the most beautiful talk about Jesus and Silence by my pastor, who is also my big brother. Just the title of his talk alone made me eternally thankful that my How Would Jesus Protest discourse got bumped for another predicable Hallmark love story.

I haven’t been able to stop pondering one of the Scriptures from the Sunday talk:

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17 ESV

Peaceable. Open to reason. Full of mercy. Impartial. The “wisdom from above” that James is describing sounds a lot like empathy to me. I use the terms love and empathy rather interchangeably – this is because I believe one of the ways agape love is truly lived out in our lives is through the practice of empathy. Empathy is proof positive that love is flowing through us.  

 

Back to the global panic on Saturday – I realized my frustration directed at people was because my empathy (and more importantly, my love) likes to drift to exclusivity. I like to choose whom I have empathy for. But this is where I get it wrong so many times. For empathy to be empathy, it cannot be selective or exclusive. Empathy that flows from a tender heart full of love can only be expressed through inclusion.

 

I know I’m not the only one who falls into this trap. And this is where I’m going to say something that many people might not like to hear. I know, because it’s difficult for me to hear as well. Empathy in order to be empathy must be demonstrated toward EVERYONE. Yep, even that person who has verbally attacked you for having a different opinion. Yep, for the refugees. Yep, for the President. 

I can’t protest in defense of the refugees and then go home and tell my child not to love the difficult kid in her class. I can't tell someone to be kind and respectful to women but at the same time hate the powers at be. I can’t donate millions of dollars to charitable causes that end the water crisis or world hunger but then scream at my spouse and refuse to listen to him. I can’t defend the unborn and then rejoice over a death row sentence. Jesus kind of empathy is congruous. It's not selective. That doesn't mean we all agree on everything all the time -- but it does mean we're peaceable, gentle, open to reason and full of mercy to everyone...all the time. 

 

Jesus, in Scripture, gives a full view of empathy, which extends to everyone. I’ve heard Matthew 25 a lot the past few days.

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. …Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me (Matthew 25:35-36, 40 ESV).

 

I’ve quoted this Scripture many times – and most of those times I had it wrong. The “brothers” Jesus is talking about here in Matthew are those who are proclaiming the Good News, his disciples. It is a parallel to what we find Jesus saying in Matthew 10:5-15. Jesus is not talking about the poor and oppressed here. He does that often in other places, especially in the Gospel of Luke. But here he is strictly speaking about those who proclaim the Gospel. 

Scripture cannot mean what it does not mean. And it cannot mean what we want it to mean. Rather, we have to let Scripture inform us about who Jesus is and what He is about.  And Jesus is about ALL PEOPLE. 

Jesus was and is for both the marginalized and the privileged. He is for both the powerful and the powerless. So how do we exist in this tension of dramatically different views in our world today? We choose inclusive empathy. We practice it by being tender towards everyone rather than trampling over them with our words. We demonstrate it by listening to the people we disagree with the most. We do it by loving our enemies. And we do it by not having selective empathy.

 

So… I’m going to practice empathy that includes everyone this week! Join me! 

 

Tracy xx

 

My book Finding the Lost Art of Empathy will be released May 16, 2017 and is available for pre-order on Amazon now!

 

Why Empathy?

Why Empathy?

 

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35 ESV).

It’s the shortest verse in the entire Biblical narrative (one we all likely boasted of memorizing as a kid) -- but it’s also so power-packed with meaning for us today.

If you remember the story here in John 11, Martha and Mary had lost their brother, Lazarus, and Jesus came to them to “wake him up.”*

“Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. (John 11:32–35 ESV emphasis mine).*

The Bible records in John 11:33 that Jesus was “greatly troubled.” The Greek word, ἐνεβριμήσατο, which has been translated to our English word troubled, is maybe better understood as a display of indignation by Jesus. In other words, he was angry that something like death is a reality in this world. Not only does death upset Jesus; it enrages him because it’s not what was ultimately intended. And despite the fact that he knew that he was about to raise Lazarus and restore joy to the family, he shows his humanity. Death appalls him too. He hates it. It is exhibit A of Satan’s handiwork, and it made Jesus sick to his stomach. This should comfort those of us who have lost a loved one too soon. Jesus is just as troubled as we are.*

However, this text has always perplexed me. Why would Jesus need to weep with Mary and the Jews? I realize he’s showing his humanity in this moment, but that doesn’t put his divinity on hold. He had to have known he was getting ready to raise Lazarus from the dead. So why the tears, Jesus? Why not walk up to the grieving crowd and immediately announce the great miracle they are all about to witness?*

John’s gospel shows us a Jesus who stops to weep, grieve, and empathize with the brokenhearted first. It’s true what the prophet Isaiah said: “A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3 esv) was coming. In one of the most beautiful moments of the gospel, we see Jesus doing something many of us find weak, uncomfortable, and unnecessary. It’s called empathy.*

In a world so broken, so disillusioned, so reactionary… We need a community of believers who will look like Jesus and get troubled with the trouble of others.

 

What our world needs is what Jesus modeled. Empathy. 

Empathy for the person on the other side of the political aisle.

Empathy for the person who posted a negative comment on your Facebook.

Empathy for your neighbor who lost a loved one or a job.

Empathy for the sick.

Empathy for the people we like the least in this world.

 

Empathy does not understand prejudice or preference. It levels the playing field of life. No one is too high up or too far-gone for empathy to reach. Empathy looks beyond differences and embraces the Gospel of hope. Empathy, alone, cannot solve the worlds problems (thankfully that's God's job) --  but it can show the world who Jesus really is...a loving, caring, and compassionate Savior. But it all starts with empathy.  

Jesus wept. If that’s not empathy, I don’t know what is.*

 

Tracy xx

*Excerpts from my book Finding the Lost Art of Empathy -- available May 16, 2017. Available now for pre-sale on Amazon.com 

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