You don’t know until you know

You don’t know until you know.

This phrase has been echoing in my mind for last couple of months. I have been rolling it around trying to understand its texture and its contours.

What it means to me is a real recognition of the limitations of my own empathy. I am pretty good listener and I have been practicing as a spiritual director for over a decade. I have heard many stories, many life contexts, many struggles. And all along the way I have felt that I have been able to walk alongside people fairly well.

But a few things have happened this year to those around me which have made me realise that there is still a huge gap in my capacity to truly empathise. There are a great many life experiences which one can extrapolate into. An experience of grief can help you to walk alongside some who is grieving. Nonetheless, I have come up against experiences which have taken on a completely new light because of new knowledge.

Before a member of my extended family committed suicide I thought I could extrapolate my empathy into that situation. But after that experience and I had seen my own response and the responses of some of those who were affected, I realised that I didn’t really have a frame of reference before.

In recent months a couple of new situations have presented themselves to me and I have realised that I have blind spots that I did not know existed. It is a humbling and sobering realisation.

It makes me far more aware of my reliance on grace in the ministry of spiritual direction. I know that most people who come to me find it useful. But the longer I remain in the role the more I recognise that it truly is the action of the Holy Spirit. I am just a limited vessel.

You don’t know until you know.

As I roll that over in my mind a while longer I recognise the astounding importance of the life of Jesus. Through the incarnation God has the experiential understanding of what it is to be human. That is truly extraordinary. God has the capacity to ‘get it’ from the inside.

God knows what it is to be human.

2 thoughts on “You don’t know until you know

  1. While persons such as we, may be a world apart, it is awe inspiring how beautiful, meaningful insights such as expressed here, resonate. Every day, I believe more and more that people are connected, whether they know it, or accept it, or not. We all eventually share common experiences, insights, loves, fears, worries, hopes, and combinations of complex emotions. Thank you for connecting with your words. Thank you sooo much.

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