I click onto a fresh ‘write’ page, all blank and awaiting, and it is quite intimidating. Good thing I have a faint idea of what I want to say, right? So very faint and yet, so intimidating and powerful on it’s own that it must be printed, so here we go. Thank you, Lord, for the powerful parts or else I might drown in the mundane and unseemly.
My news feed on social media lately has inundated with posts on empathy, the empath, and prophecy – “The Dark Side of Empaths You Rarely See and Must Always Be Cautious of,’ and “10 Reasons Why You Should Never Mess With an Empath.“. I greatly enjoyed these articles, don’t get me wrong. I hope, by providing the links, others with such gifts may find a kindred spirit and some validation of the absolute weirdness it is to possess such a strange and unusual gift.
It is actually not so strange nor quite so unusual, as I am discovering. There are many who operate within the realms of this gift. I know of 5 people in my personal circle who carry this gift of discerment. It can be beautiful and it can be scary. It can be tiresome and it can be tormenting. It is, ultimately, a gift given by Holy Spirit to be used as a tool for prayer and healing.
Now I want to give you a ‘Real Life’ incidence of this gift – up close, personal, heart-wrenching, and … I don’t know the end yet.
Two months ago, my husband began fighting several strange symptoms of varying illnessess. The symptoms presented within days of each other and we were baffled, as was the doctor. So began the expensive testing, the copious dr visits and the “I have no idea what it could be but let’s try this (s)”.
In the beginning of this trial, I was all about “I got this. I’ll handle it. I’ll take care of him and take care of the child and take of myself and everything will be okay.” That lasted about 3 days. I began to wear down. Now, I’ll be straight-forward and say I am not a care-giver by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t have the patience or the band-with for it, though I have never known why before. (I know why not now.)
As the situation deteriorated, as the need grew, and as the trial intensified, I became more agitated and more desperate. My anger overwhelmed all of us and my despair was unbearable. I kept thinking that it was simply because I wasn’t cut out for this level of giving. There came a point were I was unable to pray for husband – not for his peace, not for his healing, and not for his putting up with my unsteadiness. Several weeks passed and I was becoming more unstable with time and responsibility.
To put it simply – I was scared.
There came a day when my husband assented to going to the emergency room. A bit of relief entered here. A little more relief came when he agreed to be admitted to the hospital. A 24 to 48 hour stay quickly became 5 days in the hospital. I mentioned before that I had no band-with for care-giving. Well now, for real, I was in uncharted territory. I had no clue what to do, what to expect, how to move through the day, how to take care of our child while my husband was on medical lock-down. The day my husband was admitted was the day I shut down all emotion.
Before the admission, I’ve now come to realize, I was feeling everything from everyone. My husband was anxious, worried, scared, lost, feeling inadequate as a husband and father and provider. Our son had his own concerns about school, Transformers, friends, and teachers. And I was feeling all of this, plus some emotions not mentioned I’m sure, and every other emotion of my own.
When my husband was admitted to the hospital, and I subsequently shut down all emotions, it gave me a break. I think it may have given me a break at the expense of my husband and my son but there you have it. I was on the go constantly, from school to hospital. back to school and back to hospital. Our son cried at least once a day if not morning and night because Daddy was not home where he should be. He couldn’t make it through a full day and I would have to pick him up mid-day. I can’t say for sure I was much comfort to him, as much as I tried. Even here, I didn’t feel anything deeply because I couldn’t afford to feel much, less I would begin to cry and not stop for hours.
Eventually, our patriarch was released back into the wild, into our own care. It was another relief. We had him home where we could see him, feel him, and joke with him once again. Now, Father God could reiterate to me what He had been showing me all along.
While I was busy trying not feel every little thing from everybody, Father was sending birds to me as a reminder that He was with me and He was watching over us. One day there were several birds which flew past the windows and doors, landing on wind chimes, flag poles, and lanterns. The very next day, birds were landing on window screens of every room I went to. Both days, the Lord told me repeatedly, “Find Me.” After much conversation and consternation, I eventually came to a conclusion and asked, “Why should I look for You? You’re always right here!” To which He replied, “Exactly.”
Another day, Father said to me simply, “He will be okay. He is mine.” How could I refute that?
God had tried to let me know all along that He was with us, He was on top of things, He wasn’t in some distant, far away place. He knew and He was singing over us every morning and throughout the day.
Being an empath, or having/carrying this level of discernment is hard, folks! Seeing a loved one sickly is one thing. Feeling every doubt, fear, and turmoil is quite another. And it’s so hard to separate yourself from another. Meeting someone on the street and being able to tap into their emotions for a moment is beneficial to them. Becoming inundated with these same emotions from a loved one can be debilitating. I’m speaking as one who has not yet mastered this awesome, and sometimes terrifying, gift.
I became as one who was constantly terrified and defeated. Because of sickness and illness, we all feel a certain amount. But I’m here to tell you, empathy is no joke. But then, there’s another thing too. In the midst of all this (and it’s not quite over yet), I asked God to shut down the gift of empathy for just a little while, so I could feel only my own stuff and deal with it. God granted my request for just a few moments and I have to tell you, it was the most alone I ever felt in my entire life! I was utterly alone. There was no one else, anywhere. I couldn’t sense another person. I couldn’t imagine another person. I was alone, entirely and completely by myself in the whole world.
That brief experience was much scarier and of much more torment than being able to feel the pain and fear of another person. I changed my mind quickly and changed my request. Now I remind myself to ask Father to remind me to pray over what I feel and to release everything to Him. It is the only way, for me at least.
Hebrews 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
Jeannie B. Wilbourn