Almost 5 years ago when we moved into our log cabin in the country, I told my wife that I wanted this place to also be a blessing to others. I could tell that this idea wasn’t comfortable to her. She probably pictured endless dinner parties and weekend shooting sports events in the backyard. You see, having people over is exhausting for my wife. She has a smile that goes on forever, but the stress of entertaining people is too much for a beautiful introvert like her.
Now after all this time I get a spiritual lesson. A lesson learned by watching a compassionate introvert like Angie who has been willing to be uncomfortable to help people. She has showed me how loving people through empathy is possible. We joke sometimes that Angie is terrible at boundaries… it’s true, but she deeply wants to make other people’s lives better.
Spiritual Lessons – Empathy, Sympathy and Compassion
I’m an introvert too, but I have a different way of expressing it. I love my solitude, but I have passions, ideas and a message that I want to share. Sharing means being with people so I extend myself for the purpose of the message. It is now possible for me to honestly say that I am no good at empathy. I just don’t feel other people’s pain. Sometimes I can express sympathy and mean it, but even there I’m shallow. Compassion, I’m better at that… but I have a lot to learn.
Over the past 5 years we have had a few opportunities to help people in our home. Our little farm came with two living structures. One we call the main house and the other the guest house. The guest house is the original little cabin built on our property. The main house is the bigger log cabin built in 2003. Our guest house has been in transformation ever since we moved out here. We have slowly been improving it to make it cleaner and more appealing. The greatest use of it so far, however, is that we have given a few people in need, a transitional place to stay.
Remember me saying that I wanted this place to be a blessing to others? Yeah, having people stay in our guest home was not my idea. It was my wife’s idea. She saw a need and knew that it was the right thing to do. I was always supportive, but not intimately connected to the mission.
The Spiritual Lessons are coming, and it probably isn’t what you think.
By watching how my wife cared for others I got the idea of creating a community, a space for people to have transitional housing. This would be a place for growth and healing. The idea is still alive, but not the point of this article. I mention it only to illustrate how watching someone use their gifts to love people can evoke others to want to do the same.
Recently I found myself extremely emotional and negative about some of the stress that was happening in my home. Angie was feeling it too so we sat separated in a quiet place on the farm to have a discussion. I spent about an hour expressing my concerns and feelings. “This can’t go on forever” “they are imposing their problems on us” I complained. Angie was such an angel to listen carefully.
Walking away from this conversation I was hoping to feel relieved that I had expressed my pain, but that wasn’t the case. I felt convicted. The gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit, I believe, was “who is this for?” “is it right to help people only until it becomes a little painful, then quit?” “what if each of these people were here to help you?” “are you so right and good?”
This is refreshing actually. The four individuals who have come into our lives on our farm are blessings. Yes, they are blessings to us… to me. We are merely stewards of a facility. We are not anymore right or better than those who have needed time in our facilities. Angie’s heart to help people in an intimate way is helping me. I am grateful for the continued lessons. May I be ever obedient to my continued education.
Spiritual Lessons – Scripture Encouragement
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4: 7-11 (ESV) (bold added for emphasis is mine)