Friendship, Listening, and Empathy: A Prayer GuideTwo Hands: Grief and Gratitude in the Christian LifeSabbath Keeping FastingA Renewed SpiritualityNurturing Hope: Christian Pastoral Care in the Twenty-First CenturyThe Power of ListeningJoy Together: Spiritual Practices for Your CongregationPersonality Type in CongregationsPrayers of the Old TestamentPrayers of the New TestamentSabbathFriendingA Garden of Living Water: Stories of Self-Discovery and Spiritual GrowthDeath in Dunedin: A NovelDead Sea: A NovelDeadly Murmurs: A NovelBeating Burnout in CongregationsReaching Out in a Networked WorldEmbracing MidlifeAdvent DevotionalDraw Near: Lenten Devotional by Lynne Baab, illustrated by Dave Baab

Friendship, loneliness, and prayer: Praying to keep empathy flowing

Lynne Baab • Wednesday March 6 2024

Friendship, loneliness, and prayer: Praying to keep empathy flowing

Do you care about what other people are feeling? If your answer is yes, most of the time, then you have already overcome the biggest obstacle to empathy. The most common empathy block is simply not caring about what the other person feels or experiences. I’m assuming most of the readers of this blog try to care. Sometimes, especially with challenging people, we might need to pray for a caring heart. Sometimes, especially when we are stressed or tired, we may need to pray for a big infusion of love from the Holy Spirit. However, I sense from the feedback to...

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Friendship, loneliness, and prayer: Praying about distractions from empathy

Lynne Baab • Thursday February 29 2024

Friendship, loneliness, and prayer: Praying about distractions from empathy

Imagine you and a friend are walking in your favorite park. Your friend is talking about a challenging situation at work. During the ten minutes they’re on that topic, your brain flits back and forth from their story to the bird you see flying by, your discomfort in your new walking shoes, your concern that it might start raining and you forgot your umbrella, and your own concerns about work. Oh, yes, the craft project you’re working on these days also comes to mind.

You might think something is wrong with you that you can’t stay focused on your friend’s story and...

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Friendship, loneliness, and prayer: Praying to grow in empathy

Lynne Baab • Tuesday February 20 2024

Friendship, loneliness, and prayer: Praying to grow in empathy

First and foremost, empathy requires that we pay attention to another person. Their facial expression and body language. Their tone of voice. The way they describe situations, actions, feelings, and responses. As I’m sure you know, this is much harder than it sounds.

Obstacles to paying attention are manifold. Some obstacles come from outside, such as background noise, chaotic environments, or planes flying overhead. Most obstacles come from within, from our own thoughts and feelings. I can list so many things that flit through my mind when I’m trying to listen empathetically: the ingredients I need for dinner, the mess in the...

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Friendship, loneliness, and prayer: Praying to use empathy with love

Lynne Baab • Wednesday February 14 2024

Friendship, loneliness, and prayer: Praying to use empathy with love

Identify with. Experience. Understand. Those are the verbs in the definition of empathy that I have been highlighting in recent blog posts.

“Empathy is the cognitive process of identifying with or vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. . . . When we empathize, we are attempting to understand and/or experience what another person understands and/or experiences.” —Verderber and Verderber, Inter-Act: Interpersonal Communication Concepts, Skills and Contexts

Today, I want to raise the possibility that the three verbs I have highlighted can be exercised without love and actually cause harm. Ideally, we hope that anyone who makes an effort to identify with,...

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