After my experience on Sunday morning, I am not sure what to do. I feel like I cannot carry on as usual and pretend it never happened. Even when I do carry on as usual, something in me feels... unsettled. I am reminded of what James has said about being "haunted" by the Holy Spirit; when you are haunted, you are unable to live a normal life.
It's not that I feel an urge to go out and try to fix everyone's problems. For once, I don't feel that way. I know that is not my place. But I am left asking myself, what do I do with this? I sat in that room and became immensely aware of people's pain and God's compassion. That is real, and I cannot ignore it.
Empathy is a gift, I think. And I think that is at the core of what I felt on Sunday. There have been many times in my life when I have felt so strongly what other people are feeling. Combine empathy with intuition, and yes, I absolutely believe it is a gift that God wants to use. Not that I am "special" somehow; I think we each have a gift he wants to use. But perhaps this is mine.
But what do you do with empathy and intuition? As with any gift, some people might use these things to manipulate others. But I don't think that is what empathy and intuition should be used for.
I want to use them to connect with other people. When you can "read" people well, and pick up on their emotions, you are better equipped to come alongside them and encourage them or help them through their problems. You can pray for them with a keen sense of what they are going through.
In fact, it hit me the other day that this is part of what Jesus did in his life here on earth. He became human. He can empathize with our struggles, fears, and joys. And Scripture says he intercedes for us with God.
As I look at the life of Jesus, I am so encouraged by what he did with his empathy and understanding of people. He had compassion. He loved them. He encouraged them. He spoke hard truths when necessary. He didn't let himself become completely overwhelmed by the pain of other people. He intercedes for us.
And so while I am still left wondering how, specifically, God wants to use me, I am not anxious and worried about it. I simply feel led to get to know the people in my life better, to spend time developing relationships with them, and encouraging them when I can, and praying for them. And I know I do not have to let myself get overwhelmed by other people's pain; I can be aware of it, let the feelings run through me, and give it to God.
But one thing is for sure; I cannot go on as though Sunday morning never happened.