(photo from the movie In Her Shoes)
When Rose says to Maggie in In Her Shoes, 'I don't have room in my head for your problems' I thought 'amen sister'. I recently re-watched this movie and as she said that for the first time it struck me that I feel that way more often than not. I am not a naturally sympathetic person. I am a social worker by education and nature. If you call me I will not tell you how hard your life is, I will tell you how to fix your problems.
As I've grown and maybe even matured I've realized more and more the great value in sympathy. When you call a friend to dish about the hard stuff in your life you don't always want them to tell you how to fix it. Sometimes you just want them to be a sympathetic ear. Occasionally you just want them to nod while you over dramatize a situation and make your life out to sound worse than it is.
If you want to throw a pity party you probably still want to leave me off the invite list. But as the Lord is teaching me to extend more grace and to purpose to be more sympathetic I dare say I'm starting to have room in my head for other people's problems. As I continue to study what the bible says about the tongue I'm learning to speak life and not death to those who come to me.
The wise and wonderful Clyde (my Dad) taught me in college that if you take the time to ask people about what's important to them, you'll always have friends. What feels big, hard, scary, or overwelming to me may not to you and so is true of the reverse. I'm learning to watch my words and not respond with 'well you just need to...' and sympathize. Now if I could just listen more than I speak...