I spent yesterday afternoon and a good portion of this morning with a precious family. The 93-year-old patriarch of the family is in his last days on this earth. This family is absolutely wonderful, and it has been such a blessing to spend this time with them.
They laugh, tell stories, sing songs, read Scripture, joke with each other, and cry. The full range of emotions overflowing from a full life.
I have learned something—the human heart is designed to know and to be known. The human heart longs for relationship—deep, meaningful, satisfying relationship. In order to achieve this type of relationship, two things are key: (1) Time and (2) Empathy.
(1) Time. Relationships cannot be microwaved. We cannot just show up, press a few buttons, and—voilá—expect a meaningful relationship. Of course, just spending a lot of time together doesn’t mean a relationship will be successful either. However, the greater the quantity of time that is spent means a greater likelihood of quality time.
(2) Empathy. The Bible says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). It doesn’t say, “If people are low, bring them up; if they are too high, bring them down to realistic levels.” Empathy is all about letting the other person drive the agenda—to match whatever they are feeling. A Swedish Proverb says, “A shared joy is a double joy, and a shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”
Here’s a good pattern to follow—
Right Time + Right Thing = Meaningful Relationships
Quality Time + Empathy Time = Satisfying Relationships