A Break-Up, Friendship and the Power of Empathy

A Letter from Maddie Black

Photo by Chris Barbalis

Photo by Chris Barbalis

(Click on the letters to enlarge)

Dear Friend,

Never underestimate the healing power of empathy. 

Amid suffering the pain of a broken heart, I experienced a deep joy and peace because the women in my life unselfishly chose to enter into my pain with me instead of trying to take the pain away. 

When I was crying my eyes out and did not feel like getting out of bed, I know it would have been much safer and easier for them to tell me: “At least you still have your dream job, snap out of it” or “at least you guys were not engaged yet, you really need to look on the bright side”. 

But instead they took the more vulnerable road by validating my pain and saying things like: “That must really hurt, I can’t imagine how you must be feeling” and “I know I can’t take this pain away from you, but I am going to be here with you in it”. These types of empathetic phrases, instead of shutting me down, allowed me to grieve, in my own time, the great loss I was feeling in my life. 

The loving empathy these women showed me gave me permission to openly express what was going on in my heart and mind and allowed me to see that I was not stupid or dramatic for feeling the way I was feeling. And because I was given the freedom to just be, I could experience the joy that God had in store for me, even in the midst of the greatest suffering my heart had ever known. 

These women, my dear sisters, mother and friends were God’s instruments as he slowly, but surely brought peace, joy and healing to my heart.

Just as Veronica, when seeing the great suffering of Jesus, silently allowed herself to enter into his pain and bring him some small comfort by wiping his face – the women in my life, entered into my suffering, by letting me cry all over their shoulders, listening to me talk and process, bringing me tea and flowers, stroking my hair and silently praying, (Page 2) making me smile and laugh, studying with me and reading to me and living life with me even when I was a straight up mess. 

These women trusted that God would make all things new in time, and that it was not their job to heal my pain, but it was their job to walk beside me. 

 

These women trusted that God would make all things new in time, and that it was not their job to heal my pain, but it was their job to walk beside me. 

 

Standing by someone you love and seeing their pain and knowing that you can’t fix it, is itself heart breaking. I am so grateful to the women in my life who were not afraid to suffer heart ache for love of me.

A year removed, my sometimes still aching, but very joy filled heart is thankful for the healing power of empathy and the gift of selfless, trusting women and a unconditionally loving and faithful God. 

Heartbreak and pain are a natural and unavoidable part of life – the key is learning what to do when the storm hits. 

I pray that we can all be women who are not afraid to suffer and to suffer alongside - women who trust in God’s timing and healing hand - women who experience joy in the midst of suffering.

Thank you, Jesus, for the healing power of empathy. 

Love, 

Maddie


Get to know Maddie

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi! My name is Maddie Black, I am a single, (nearly) 24 years old, who is just embarking on new life adventures! I graduated from Franciscan University this past May, packed my bags and moved from my family’s home in the good old state of Wisconsin to the greater Cincinnati area. I work for the Dynamic Catholic Institute – which means I get to go to work every day and help re-energize the Catholic Church in America! What more could a young professional like myself want? While I miss my mom, dad, and 7 younger siblings – God has given me a great peace that I am right where He wants me to be.


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