01 July 2014

With some of my trials I've had the distinct impression that if I could overcome it, I would be better equipped to help others through similar trials with love and empathy. However, some of my trials are just hard and it never occurs to me that one day it will be an experience that I can use to help someone else.

Ending my mission early was one of those experiences. I knew it was what the Lord wanted, so once the decision was made, the struggle was gone. And now, I don't even think of it as a trial. In fact, I don't really think of it at all. The Spirit has confirmed to me again and again that I fully completed my mission, so I don't even think about 'what ifs'. 

This morning, however, one of my favorite sister missionaries here in England called me up because I was the only one she could think of to help her. I haven't seen this sister since she was transferred out of my ward several months ago, so I was both delighted and immediately alarmed to hear her voice. 

She's struggling with some severe health issues and she needs to make a decision about going home. Looking back, it's probably no coincidence that she's one of the few people here in England I've talked to about my own health struggles on the mission. Heavenly Father works in the most wonderful ways to help each of us meet people who can help us at critical moments in our lives. Although I had no idea that my own experience with this would one day be called upon to help another, I am grateful that she thought to call me. And even if I didn't say any words that will help her, I hope I was able to say it in a way that could. Sometimes empathy and love is all we need when we are struggling. At least I know I do. 

Empathy is hard because we have to be vulnerable WITH someone in their struggles, rather than just feeling sorry for them from a safe emotional distance. Here's a great clip that explains what I mean:

I still need a lot of practice, but over the last year I've come to realize how crucial empathy is in all aspects of my life. So I'm going to make this another goal for my Sabbatical year.

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