After I got the CRISIS text from the woman in my recovery ministry, I chose to handle it in a healthy way. First, I let myself take a nap. Then I called a good friend to help give me perspective on why this woman’s situation was disrupting me so much. Through our conversation, I realized her struggles were touching on a similar wound of mine. Because of that, I felt both angry and sad that I was working so hard to help her when no one had helped me. Once I was able to name that and talk about it with my friend and then Jesus, I felt much more grounded and could make better choices about what it meant to care for her—and to care for myself.
There is a cost to compassion and empathy. Acknowledging that does not diminish the honor and privilege it is to enter into people’s heartache. But to ignore the toll that caring takes on our bodies, hearts, and minds is actually an unkindness toward ourselves and others. Intentionally receiving daily care connects us to the heart of God. He can replenish what is spent as we love and serve others.
Jen Oyama Murphy is a former small group director and support and recovery ministry director. She loves working as a lay counselor and bringing care into stories of trauma and harm. She is currently working on a master’s in clinical psychology.