Empathy Before Solutions: Purpose in Listening More

In this episode:

In my attempt to be “helpful,” I know I sometimes offer solutions when someone else was looking for empathy. If we listen and learn, we might discover the true needs of others and find space for understanding. Will you join me in practicing that skill? 


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Inspired Life

Is there a possibility that in becoming focused on the “after” we forget that there is an ongoing battle? We are not a simple before and after, one and done. We are always in progress. So even while writing our books and telling our stories, we’re still in a battle for our emotions, mental health, freedom, and peace.  

I can get so focused on my own work that I miss the needs of the people in my circles.  

In rejoicing in stories of repurposed life and the beautiful restoration Jesus offers, I need to pause to remember that we still live in a broken world. God created a perfect world, but from Adam and Eve, it was already messed up. The great news is that from the moment they broke the connection with God, he already had a plan put in place to restore it.  

Every tragedy should give us a reason to ask God, “Who do you want me to notice?” 

We can’t rescue every hurting person, but what if we practiced noticing the real hurt in someone else? In this episode, we look at how we can be purposeful in our response to others. I give some examples of ways we might heap more stress on each other when we’re trying to help, and then give some examples of ways I’m trying to learn to listen more and fix less.

Life, Repurposed

When we offer ideas for what a friend should do, or we ask questions about their struggle that imply they are doing something wrong, it could create even more stress. These are some ideas of responses to practice that help us understand more rather than offering pat solutions.  

If you have more ideas to share, we want to hear them in the Life Repurposed Community on Facebook. Join the group at the link below! 

  • How can I encourage you right now? 
  • What would bless you? 
  • I hear you saying you’re stressed. I’m here for you.  
  • What would you say to me if I were in your shoes? 
  • If you had no barriers, how would you solve your dilemma? 
  • That sounds frustrating! 
  • I see how capable you are, and I know you can do this. 
  • I’m cheering you on toward your next break. 
  • Would you prefer to talk about something else? I’m here either way. 
  • Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing the best you can. 
  • Would you prefer some space, or do you want me to hang out with you? 
  • You’re in a tough situation. 
  • From what I understand, you’re saying… 

Recommended Resources

For today’s resource, I shared a podcast episode that was so meaningful to me this week. My friend Amy Watson, who I know through the Christian Podcasters Association, poured out her heart in her latest episode on her show, Wednesdays with Watson. 

Amy’s story shows us that behind the scenes, there can be so much happening. We don’t know what pain someone else has been through. 

Amy didn’t want tragedy to define her, so she’s put her story out there, and now she’s moving forward with helping others recover from the PTSD of a traumatic past. Rather than being defined by what was broken, she’s defined by what is healed.  

Here’s what Amy’s story taught me: 

  • Listening for clues to a person’s hurts and emotions. 
  • Practicing empathy. 
  • Rejoicing with victory. 
  • Continuing to process with someone else’s healing at their own pace. 

That sounds like a life repurposed, doesn’t it? If you’re struggling because of what abuse has broken in you, and if you want to hear about the healing power of Jesus, give it a listen.  

Part 1 of Amy’s story
Part 2 of Amy’s story 


Consider joining our Life, Repurposed Facebook community to build connections and engage in conversation about topics from each episode. 


(Please note: books posted here on my blog are purely because I want to share them. Sometimes I receive free copies for review, and other times I purchase the books. Some I get from the library. Either way, any endorsement I offer here on the blog is simply because I want to talk about the book. )

Michelle Rayburn is the author of The Repurposed and Upcycled Life: When God Turns Trash to Treasure, as well as a small group Bible study to accompany the book. Learn more about these and her other books here. A sample chapter of the book and Bible study are available for free download.

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This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. I sell my ebook via Amazon but I’m also a part of their “Associates” (i.e. affiliate) program which pays a commission on books and any other Amazon products people purchase via my links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Posted in Articles, Books & Resources, Everyday Life & Practical Tips, Faith and Inspiration, Podcast Episodes.