20 Truths from Brave Souls by Belinda Bauman

“The incarnation is the fullest expression of the empathy of God.”
20 Truths from Brave Souls by Belinda Bauman
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1. “What impacted me most was their capacity to love. They regularly overcame their wounds—physical, emotional, and psychological— choosing to forgive the perpetrators, reconcile with their enemies, and serve their communities” (Page 6).

2. “Empathy became an engine to bring change to their communities. It was real, muscular, disciplined” (Page 7).

3. “Empathy is also a radical departure from sympathy in that it doesn’t just involve our emotions. It engages our intellect as well, and it’s proven true by our actions. Leaning into the situation, perspective and feelings of others so we can act for the good of all is a helpful way to understand a practiced, embodied kind of empathy” (Page 8).

4. “But for all our connectedness, we are subtly—and sometimes not so subtly—ignoring each other’s perspectives, circumstances, and needs. Instead of seeking to understand, we quietly pronounce judgment, stoking a simmering anger. Or we smile civilly, nodding our head, feeding the isolation among us” (Page 9).

5. “Empathy is a movement deep in our soul. It takes us from standing by to standing up, from sleeping to awakening” (Page 12).

6. “Empathy is not reserved for a few saints who walk above the earth. It’s not a feeling or an epiphany. No, empathy is gritty, personal, concrete, and practical, available for anyone thirsty enough to pursue real love” (Page 29).

7. “Empathy is the place where I meets you—where souls intersect at the crossroads of love” (Page 38).

8. “The incarnation is the fullest expression of the empathy of God” (Page 40).

9. “…civility will never bring real change. It may temper the polarization, emotions, and even some violence. But it will never bring true reconciliation, peace, or love” (Page 44).

10. “Empathy not only makes us better at being human but also is key to ensuring our very existence. Without it, we isolate, grow fearful, begin to hate, and ultimately fight. Relationships fall apart. People take revenge. Nations start wars” (Page 48).

11. “Social media can keep us from seeing others as belonging to us or as our responsibility. They have the potential to inoculate us from the very thing we need most: authentic relationships. Even the most spiritually savvy social media user can allow himself to believe that if he gets enough thumbs-ups, he has the equivalent of a friend. We also seek “likes” from the people we are closest to, reducing even the people we live with to “liking” us. Are we the victims of cosmic identity theft, selling our birthrights for social media thumbs-up” (Page 54)?

12. “Awakening to the perspectives of others can radically change how we see the world and how we love others” (Page 75).

13. “Our world suffers because we have an abundance of “my opinion” and a deficit of “I see where you’re coming from.” Taking the perspective of another is one of the most powerful God-given gifts at our disposal” (Page 77).

14 “The capacity to understand another person’s story, to comprehend the subtle backdrop of experiences, both excellent and limiting, is a holy thing” (Page 87).

15. “Connecting with someone can be fraught with misunderstanding and missed connections, especially given the level of noise swirling around us” (Page 98).

16. “When we stop caring, we stop loving. And when we stop loving, we stop doing. We trade messy for quaint, gutsy for tame, authentic for fallacious. We settle for less. We seek to be pampered. We rationalize sympathy, apathy, even antipathy” (Page 114).

17. “…forgiveness is more about the forgiver than the forgiven” (Page 117).

18. “God’s command to make our love real, to empathize tenderly and tangibly with each other, does not hinge on our love being accepted or even noticed. We aren’t promised applause, praise, or thanks. Through empathy, God asks us to give ourselves away to a vulnerable and angry world for the common good of all” (Page 146).

19. “Empathy is a spiritual discipline we pursue within our power so we can do something beyond our power. Something extraordinary. Something impossible” (Page 154).

20. “We know the purpose of empathy is to love—genuinely love—our neighbor, our God, and ourselves. When we try to love with words only, our intentions fall flat because we do not act. Empathy without deeds is mere rhetoric. Empathy doesn’t just talk; it does” (Page 185).

Taken from Brave Souls by Belinda Bauman. Copyright (c) 2019 by Belinda Bauman. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426.

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20 Truths from Brave Souls by Belinda Bauman