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Connecting With Others in a Disconnected World

Author Tracy Wilde discusses how empathy can shine God's light in people's lives. Read Transcript

Welcome back.

In 2008 Tracy Wilde had a sick feeling, she and her boyfriend

would never get married.

A few days later that nagging sensation

became a terrible reality, one that

led to years of uncontrollable pain.

NARRATOR: Tracy Wilde led Bible studies

for congressional leaders on Capitol Hill.

But 10 years ago, her faith was shaken

to the core when her boyfriend unexpectedly passed away.

Through months of grief and panic attacks,

Tracy realized she needed someone to reach out to her,

yet very few did.

In her book, Finding the Lost Art of Empathy,

Tracy inspires us to use what we learn from our pain,

to help others, and offers tips on connecting with people

in a disconnected world.

Tracy Wilde joins us now with more of her incredible story.

Tracy, it's great to meet you, God bless you.

Bless you.

So you'd been dating, Tennyson your boyfriend

about eight months and you both decided,

we're going to get married.


You dropped him off, I mean you had just realized,

you're in love with him you, just said yes to his proposal.

You drop him at the airport, and you

had this really sick feeling in your stomach.


And what happened?

Yeah it was just one of those feelings.

Like any woman, you wait for that moment

that you're going to meet the one that you're

going to spend the rest of your life with

and you're so excited.

And I remember feeling all that, but also

feeling this weird sensation like I don't think we're ever

going to get married.

And just a few days later, he graduated to heaven

and it was a tragic experience.

And I was obviously in shock, and denial

and all these things.

But somehow God took all that pain

and transferred it into so much purpose for my life,

and hopefully that I can speak into other people's life

about working through tragedy and grief.

When you say graduated to heaven he was very fit,

athletic, he was out hiking-- he's from Colorado--

and they found his body.

Yeah, just a few days later.

And there's a lot of mystery around his death

and that was something I had to work through to in grief.

Grief is hard enough, but then when

it's shrouded by mystery and not really sure what

was going on and then, just to in a moment, to lose someone,

and having to work through that pain.

When you say that soon after that,

you were looking for a book, something

to help you get through this time,

and you were in Barnes and Noble,

and you had your first real panic attack.

I mean, what was going on?

Well, I thought I was going to die in that moment,

I had never experienced a panic attack before, and just felt

like the room was caving in on me, my heart's racing,

and I remember just crying out to God.

I mean I'm a pastor's kid.

I grew up in church.

I've always loved Jesus.

And I'm in Barnes and Noble, like just

trying to find something to hold on to, something tangible.

You know when you're in overwhelming grief,

you feel like you got to grab something that's

going to give you some stability and so I tried to find a book.

And I just couldn't find anything.

And you just burst out in tears

right in Barnes and Noble.

Yeah, how embarrassing.

Oh my gosh, well you say--

why did his death make you feel so isolated, because you were

part of a church community, like you said, you're a pastor's kid

and you're a pastor now yourself.

But why did that make you feel so isolated?

I think death challenges the Christian faith in God.

This theology of a good God.

So I think sometimes the Christian community,

they want to be there for you and they

are good at showing sympathy.

But what I realized is maybe we're

not great at showing empathy.

Which there's a slight difference

between sympathy and empathy.

And so what I discovered was, there

were people in my church home that

loved me and wanted to be there for me,

but they didn't know how to practically do that.

They didn't have the tools, they didn't know what to say,

or what maybe not to say, or what

actions they could take that could help someone

in a situation like that.

And that's what you talk about in your book,

Finding the Lost Art of Empathy, you

talk about the difference between sympathy and empathy.

What are the distinctions?

Well, you know, sympathy is wonderful

and we need to have sympathy for one another.

But it's as simple as writing a sympathy card or an apology

card and sending it in the mail to someone,

maybe sending someone flowers, which are all wonderful things.

Empathy is more active.

Empathy is getting involved and staying

involved in someone's life through all of the seasons

and all the journey of pain.

Feeling their pain.

Yeah, it's really getting involved in it

and not giving up on someone, until the time is up.

That you know, they're through on the other side of pain,

which I can promise you this, you will get to the other side,

if you just keep moving.

But we need people to come around us and show empathy


How long did you stay in that grief, with the questions,

and panic attacks, and, you know, how long did you

stay there?

You know, I don't know if I know the timeline of when

some of that stopped, but I know that as soon as I really

started getting into a community, of having people

that I was open with, and the journey of experiencing

these emotions, all of a sudden I

began to see that God really was near.

And this really did change.

I want to Regent Seminary, about a year after he

had passed away, I came to Virginia Beach went to Regent,

and I didn't want to get angry at God.

And it was in that moment that I started to really discover

God's purpose for my life.

And so in a way, Regent kind of saved me.

It's not even a plug for Regent, but man, Regent is amazing,

and it really did, it helped me see that God

is bigger than my pain.

God is bigger than the world's circumstances.

When you ran towards God, with your pain,

instead of running away and finding comfort

in something else, although in the beginning you said,

you couldn't even open the Bible.

But later, you know, that happened

so you ended up coming to Regent and you

got your Master's in divinity.

Wow, congratulations.

Thank you.

So was that the turning point, was coming to Regent?

I think it was it really was for me,

it was my attempt to not hate God, to not get mad at God,

not to blame God.

And it was really in studying the Bible,

and really getting God's heart for my life,

and and for others.

It opened my eyes to see the pain of our world,

and how much we need Jesus to come on the inside of us

and just surround us.

In whatever pain it is, if it's a divorce, if it's a breakup,

if it's a death, whatever it is God,

is near to the broken hearted, Psalms says.

And Tracy you made a promise to yourself

when you were going through this pain

and you were looking for something

to help you, and something to read,

and you couldn't really find it.

You said, I'm going to write a book,

and help other people that are going through this

and you've done that.

I did, I know!

It's nice to make a to-do list and actually

get to check it off, isn't it?

So it's a great opportunity, an honor for me

to be able to hopefully write something, that's

going to give people tools.

Whoever you might, you might be going through something.

So somebody who's watching right now who's

still in the middle of it, can they move on,

will they move on from this pain?

Can you get away from that deep pain?


I believe it's God's heart for all of us,

is that we might find ourselves in a situation of pain,

but God never intends for us to stay there.

And so God wants to lead you through, all that journey

and He's going to burst out of that pain, a lot of purpose

is going to burst through.

So right now you're living in Boise, Idaho.

And what a beautiful place.

I'd love to visit you out there.

Come any time!

I've never been there.

Well, it's been a pleasure.

Tracy, thank you so much for sharing your story.

If you've ever been hurt, and who hasn't, or you

know someone who has, then you need to get Tracy's book.

It's full of stories.

It's uplifting.

It's called Finding the Lost Art of Empathy

and it's available in stores nationwide.


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