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Discovering the Lost Art of Empathy

Author Tracy Wilde brings a fresh and honest message that helps break down walls of insecurity, and encourages people to find hope and purpose in Jesus alone. Read Transcript


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 learned

from our pain to help others.

It offers tips on connecting with people

in a disconnected world.

Well, Tracy is joining us for more on her story.

And here you are, you've just decided to get married,

and then four days later, tragedy happens.

What happened?

Yeah, it was an unexpected death,

and I had driven him to the airport

and said goodbye, even though that day we had talked about we

were going to get married the following May.

And so it should be the happiest day,

I should be so excited, and then just a few days later,

his life was taken shortly and--

and that was-- that was hard to wrestle with from--

from every perspective-- from a theological perspective,

you know, as a girl who grew up in the church understanding

how--

you know, I was a good girl, you know?

I was following Jesus and thought

I was doing relationships the right way

and then in a moment--

GORDON ROBERTSON: Everything should turn out right.

Right!

Yeah.

[LAUGHS]

And I think that that's--

And as I plan.

Yes!

And I think that's a struggle with a lot of believers

is that when tragedy or pain happens,

we tend to look at those situations

and get frustrated at God or lose a lot of our hope,

but I'll remember the first prayer I

prayed when I was able to muster up prayer was this--

God, bring purpose from this pain

and help me not get mad at you.

Because I know it's easy to start to blame God, and--

but God just turned it around--

GORDON ROBERTSON: I think that you

were already were, weren't you?

I think a little bit, yeah--

If your praying helped to not get mad, that--

it might be an indication--

Yeah, that it was on that track for sure.

Did you-- did you ask God why?

Sure.

I mean, who doesn't ask why in those painful moments?

And I think God's response to me always was just love--

Him just be surrounding me, being there for me.

I don't think we ever have the answers

to the whys of our life, and--

and as a believer, once again, that's the theological dilemma,

is how do bad things happen to people who are following Jesus?

We're the righteous, right?

It shouldn't be happening to us.

But I think--

GORDON ROBERTSON: You know, Jesus

promises it will happen to us.

It will!

But take heart--

Expect it.

Take heart!

He's overcome the world.

And I think that that is what the path led me to,

was really discovering that God's a lot bigger

than my perspective, and that in the midst of pain,

it can burst with purpose.

GORDON ROBERTSON: Did it make it worse that you didn't know?

That I didn't know that he was going to die?

Yeah.

Yes and no, but in a weird way,

I felt like God prepared me.

Because when I said yes--

yeah let's get married, I had this feeling for some reason

that I still can't really explain,

I remember dropping him off at the airport

and thinking, I just said I would marry someone-- which

is any woman's dream, right?

Girls grow up dreaming of this, but I

had a feeling it was never going to happen,

we were never going to get married.

And now, you know, hindsight is 20/20,

I think looking back, I think in a way the Holy Spirit was

sort of preparing me in a way

GORDON ROBERTSON: Get ready, you're going on a journey.

Yep.

One of the wonderful things about your book

is that it tells us all what to do as friends to someone who

suffered an incredible loss.

In-- let's go through I guess the bad things.

Did somebody actually say to you, it's

better that this happened before you were married

and you had kids?

Did that actually--

Yes.

Absolutely.

I got a lot of doozies.

You know, people would say, oh, well at least you

weren't married and had kids, because then that would really

be hard.

And I'm in the midst of my pain thinking,

but this is really hard.

And I think we have to-- we have to fight against that,

for people who are walking alongside,

those of-- our friends and family

who are struggling is not to try to give an answer for pain.

You know, I don't need answers, I needed comfort.

I don't need people to try to explain it away

and I think it was their attempt to be there wasn't necessarily

the right thing to say.

You know what would be better is just being like,

I can't imagine going through this, but I'm with you

and I love you and I'm praying for you-- if there's

anything you need, call me.

That would have been a better response in my need--

an hour of need, really.

Did-- did you find that some people avoided you?

Yes.

That was really hard.

I think that was harder.

In fact, I--

I think people are afraid to say the wrong thing

so a lot of times they don't say anything, right?

We've all been in that situation,

it's an awkward situation--

it was a sudden death, people didn't know what to do,

I'm the pastor's daughter of the church,

I'm sort of like the mascot of the church, you know?

They all watched me grow up--

GORDON ROBERTSON: Yeah, you're supposed to be helping us.

Yeah!

And they don't know what to do!

So instead, I'd walk--

I remember walking down a hall-- the hall of our church,

and people who had known me my whole life just walked right

by me-- didn't make eye contact with me

because he didn't know what to say.

And so I think we forget that we need to be there for people.

GORDON ROBERTSON: What should they have said?

You know, all they would have needed to say is, I'm sorry.

I'm here for you.

I love you.

Give me a hug.

Really, nothing more, because once again,

it's not answers that I needed from people--

I knew people couldn't give me the answer for my pain,

but I certainly didn't want to feel alone,

and I already was feeling like I was drowning in isolation

and I was feeling more alone when people--

GORDON ROBERTSON: You didn't want to be cut off.

Yeah.

You didn't want to be the pariah--

Exactly.

--you know?

Please reach out to me, please let me know you're there.

Let-- let me know you see my pain.

GORDON ROBERTSON: Right.

Be aware--

GORDON ROBERTSON: That I'm right here,

I'm right in front of you.

I'm not invisible.

Let me know.

Yeah.

And just let me know you care.

Yep.

Exactly.

And-- you--

you say there's a difference between empathy and sympathy.

What is that?

I think sympathy is great.

I think we need to have sympathy--

we need to send people a sympathy card,

we need to send them a text, we need to send flowers;

all those things are great things, you know?

But empathy I think is more action,

it's really love and action.

It's taking sympathy and working through it

in more tangible ways.

And it's getting inside someone else's world and in their pain

and it's staying there.

Like, I use the analogy--

GORDON ROBERTSON: I'm going to sit with you in your pain.

I'm going to--

I'm going to sit with you at the hospital

while you're waiting for that doctor's report.

I'm going to sit with you, I'm going to hold your hand,

I going to talk to you, I'm going to pray with you.

And when you get the good or bad diagnosis,

I'm going to walk this out with you, because sympathy is more

like, I'm going to say something real quick,

kind of makes me feel good.

I feel good-- it's like, pat myself on the shoulder.

I was kind to someone today.

But empathy doesn't stop there, it keeps going.

All right.

Well, the book is called "Finding

the Lost Art of Empathy," and it's

available in stores nationwide.

And Tracy, thanks for your--

thanks for the book.

Thank you.

That's good stuff.

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