Two brothers, Billy and Tim, took the Licensure Exam on Aeronautical Engineering.
They hoped that they could both go to as many countries as they dreamed about when they were young, and so they studied hard, they were encouraged by their family and friends and they sincerely prayed about it. Billy and Tim were more than brothers, they were bestfriends.
Then the hour of the announcement came and the results were posted at the school. They were both excited to see their surname so they scrolled their fingers in panic…
COLTON, BERNARD D.
COLTON, BILLY R.
COLTON, SAMUEL JAY W.
COLTON, WILLIAM Q.
DACK, JIM STEWART L.
Tim said to himself, “There’s supposed to be COLTON, TIMOTHY R. here…maybe they must’ve printed my name in another sheet.“
Billy backed out from the crowd and smilingly gave thanks to the One up above. Their mom and dad raised their eyebrows and shoulders as if to ask how was it. Billy smiled, and they gave him a congratulatory hug.
Then Tim came out of the crowd. He looked to mom and dad, forced a smile, sighed and looked down to the ground. They all comforted him as Tim started to shed tears.
On their way home Billy can’t contain the fact that he’s now a licensed Aeronautical Engineer and soon to be employed by their uncle who’s a pilot. He’s excited! He’s overwhelmed! He’s ecstatic! “This is it!“, he thought. But on the other hand, he can’t seem to force to hide his smiles to Tim. He wants to but he’s not supposed to. It was hard for him. He can’t even rejoice as much as he wants for he feels he might press the depression more into Tim’s heart.
And when they arrived Billy received words like “Hey! Congratulations!“, “Great Job!“, “I’m happy for you!” while Tim heard words such as “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, don’t worry everything’s gonna be alright.“, “You could try it next time Tim, don’t lose hope, be strong.” Billy looked at Tim from afar and he felt sorry for his brother…his bestfriend.
Billy wants to be happy, but in doing that, will he be selfish?
It’s tough to be authentic and empathic at the same time. Many people feel sorry for others but it ends there. After hearing a part of a person’s predicaments they would want to be happy again. They take a little regard to someone else’s grief because there is something that is lacking – real empathy.
I know of a man who can listen to a wounded friend and cry and experience the pain WITH him. He listens a lot and puts himself on his friend’s shoes. There is no faking in his emotions and understanding. While others are ready to give a bout of words to “encourage” or “comfort” a person, he listens and…..listens again. I know there’s joy in him but he can readily open his heart to listen to another’s concern. He has indeed a high Emotional Quotient (EQ) and his heart can talk to another heart. He isn’t selfish.
Too often while listening to others’ hurts, we act like a “progress bar”:
Initial listening…..loading 35%……60%….99.99% and when a dead air opens up in the conversation, we are “outputting” the “loaded” words. We feel sorry at first but sometimes, we simply don’t care about their misery so we blunt cliches like “Life’s really hard like that, y’ know. But don’t be sad.” It’s like one way of saying, “I really feel sorry for what you’re going through, but uhmmmm, I care less about your problems, I know it’s hard for you right now, but, I’m happy, let’s just be happy. Ok?“
In computer terms, we ought to be like “Garbage Collectors” not “Progress Bars”.
A good man/woman doesn’t know what empathy is, because it is in his/her nature. On the other hand, everybody can only sympathize. Tricia Ellis-Christensen wrote a distinction between the two:
With sympathy you feel FOR the person. You’re sorry for them or pity them, but you don’t specifically understand what they’re feeling.
Empathy can best be described as feeling WITH the person. To an extent you are placing yourself in that person’s place, have a good sense of what they feel, and understand their feelings to a degree.
It takes logic and intellectual analysis of the situation to feel sympathy but it takes a loving heart to feel empathy. In the case of Billy, he needs to learn to set aside his feelings of rejoicing and be at his brother’s side because he doesn’t want Tim to be alienated. Billy must have the courage and a tough heart for this. To be WITH Tim is definitely not selfish for he knows that the opportunity to cheer him can can only come from listening. In time, Tim will realize that he needs to be happy for his brother Billy and they will both celebrate. Happiness has its own time and place.
There’s a time for everything.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
– Ecclesiastes 3