The Ache of Empathy that Grows Redemption

by | Mar 2, 2012 | Five Minute Friday

She said it in the comments on my last post, “oh my heart aches for that little girl-you. i’m so glad God gave you him.”  I’m glad too, for the redemption.

This empathy ache, it comes from one who carries a cheery bundle on her hip, watches the other scoot around on plastic car and then says yes, I will be a surrogate mother to two more.  Two seeds sprouted from a mother whose well ran dry, capacity to parent served its last drop.

These souls, they mirror my own young life. When my aunt says, “She can live with me.”

A single teacher agrees to take her teenage niece in the second half of my third year of high school. Because the family my mother leaves me with, they decide it isn’t prudent to foster a girl without legal rights.

I sleep on a cot, next to her bed in the one bedroom apartment with the avocado carpet and plaid couch.  We croon Barry Manilow in the mirror of makeup, pick up taco salad after school, shop at JC Penney, practice driving in the Toyota Celica that becomes my first car.

The heart rests in the security of belonging to one who loves true. Spreads out it branches and roots deep in the waters of acceptance.

And yesterday, when a friend mentions that the nurse at the high school knows of many who live at home but suffer without proper care or necessities. Asks if we might help with the riches of what He gives .

My heart aches empathy, says yes, because I know this kind of poverty.

Aren’t we all surrogate mothers to the ones who walk long with the God sized ache to be loved and belong? To be conduits of Jesus that fill in the emptiness, the ache of poverty.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  

1 Corinthians 3:16

Writing for five minutes (maybe a few more) in community with Lisa Jo on the one word prompt: Ache.

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  1. Jennifer M

    A perspective to ponder this morning. How can I reach out as a surrogate, even for a moment? Lovely post. Beautiful picture. Glad you shared.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Jennifer. I think that when we have open hearts to give to others, He provides the opportunities. We don’t have to go looking for them necessarily, just eyes open to see them when they arrive.

  2. Cimarron

    You brought me to tears this morning as this reminded me of the many people who have been my surrogate parents. I don’t know where I would be without them. I am also grateful for redemption. My husband and I have parents who are on their third marriages so statically we shouldn’t have a strong marriage but we do. It’s because of redemption and the surrogate parents we have had that we have the marriage we do have.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      We do need those Godly examples don’t we Cimarron? I share your sentiments. I am so thankful for those that have invested in my life over the years, both as a child and an adult. So thankful for you and your husband, that you have a strong marriage because of those people in your lives. He heard your heart from the very beginning.

  3. Paula

    Yes, my heart ached for that little girl once….but now it swells with joy in the reality of the beautiful wife, mother, friend, and writer she has become (surviving and thriving from her circumstances). Love you and remain thankful for all of our “shared life experiences”.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thank you Paula. We’ve come a long way baby! And the stories we can tell. Without you, I am not sure where I would be today.

  4. Lyla Lindquist

    He allows us the capacity to ache, I think, for all kinds of reasons — not the least of which is that we’d actually allow it to feel like ache. When we medicate it as soon as there is a hint of pain, we often miss the point of it, and the impulse to act on it.

    Beautiful, as always, Shelly. A rich, aching story you give us these glimpses into.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      And I think about how I want to sheild my children from aching Lyla, how sometimes the ache yields profit to carry them through life. Thanks for your kind words.

      • Lyla Lindquist

        That, right there, is one of the great parenting tensions we’re never going to ever resolve, are we? Knowing when to let them experience pain and failure and loss (and walk with them through it) and when it’s time to stand in the way of it and protect them.

        I haven’t figured it out yet. But thankfully, I have kids who are generally reluctant to have us go to bat for them. They prefer to work their own way through (and they have a favorite saying about what they call the “torch and pitchfork parents” of their friends). Even so, it’s hard to stand by and force your hands to stay in your pockets

  5. tara // pohlkotte press

    opening hearts together to scoop up those who need, and don’t we all? aching empathy today with you…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, we all ache in different ways don’t we? Thanking God for it all and His sovereignty. Have a great weekend Tara.

  6. simplystriving

    Sharing that ache with you, friend. Beautiful, convicting post, Shelly. Thank you!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Nikki, glad to know you are walking with me.

  7. Nacole@sixinthesticks

    we are neighbors today! i love, love this: “The heart rests in the security of belonging to one who loves true. Spreads out it branches and roots deep in the waters of acceptance.”

    beautiful 5 min (or more) *wink* write. the picture took my breath away. did you take that? just gorgeous.


    • Redemption's Beauty

      Love being your neighbor Nacole. I did take that picture. On a lovely day, last Sunday when I walked quiet through Brookgreen Gardens here where I live. The beauty everywhere was breathtaking. Thanks for asking . .and for the compliment.

  8. roseann elliott

    I love the title…how He can take the ache…the pain of our lives and bring redemption and from that we in turn can comfort others with the comfort we received…beautiful post…have a wonderful weekend…

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thanks Ro. It just occurred to me that without that empathy we might not feel the need to do anything to help others. Hope you have a great weekend to!

  9. Heather from CT

    Shelly, You can’t begin to know how this resonated with my very DNA. To know that what we pour out matters!

    “Aren’t we all surrogate mothers to the ones who walk long with the God sized ache to be loved and belong? To be conduits of Jesus that fill in the emptiness, the ache of poverty.” This is my calling at this season of my life and you expressed it in a way that I never could.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Wow Heather, what a gift your comment is to me. I would love to hear more about this season God has called you into. You have my curiosity sitting up and taking note.

  10. Jody Collins

    Sometimes I think things and can’t put them into words, then I read what someone else has written and say, “wow, there it is.”
    this is what touched me,
    “Aren’t we all surrogate mothers to the ones who walk long with the God sized ache to be loved and belong? To be conduits of Jesus that fill in the emptiness, the ache of poverty.”
    Another thought occurs to me, there are all kinds of poverty, poverty of spirit and soul, as well as body.
    That’s what I want to give to–with a smile, an encouragement, a supporting, praying hand.

    beautiful story–yours!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Thank you Jody. And yes, I agree with you that poverty isn’t just about material wealth, we can suffer from all kinds of poverty while being rich in other areas of life. I think you get this message, that we can extend whatever He gives us to fill up the emptiness in others. Whether a smile or a hug, whatever He leads you to do.

  11. Sam Kelley

    Beautiful, beautiful post!

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Sam, it was nice to find your place today too.

  12. Maureen

    A beautiful heart-ache, with the love of action. Thank you for sharing this story, this piece of your heart.

  13. Stefanie Brown

    In search of words, words that adequately express how your post spoke to me, leaves me lost. What beautiful words, eloquently spoken. The only word I can muster is GRACE. I’m blessed to know you (even though only on-line).

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Stefanie, I feel the same about you friend. So blessed to know you. And maybe, God willing, in RL some day!

  14. charinabrooks

    Beautifully said Shelley! Thank you!

    All good things!

  15. Laura

    I wish we were all surrogate mothers to those with needs. Sometimes I worry people don’t feel that ache….they always want someone else to feel it and respond. Great post.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I have been one of those people Laura. The one thinking someone else will do it. We can’t do everything but I hope I will be able to hear it when he speaks “you take this one.”

  16. Laura Boggess

    These words kindle that ache, Shelly. I struggle with this desire to scoop all this hurting world up in my arms and cover the wounds. And then I see someone so beautiful as you who grew this way, maybe, because God uses all of these hurting places. It’s just about the hardest thing to know–that some of the hardest places to be grow the best fruit.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      I agree Laura, it is one of the hardest things to come to terms with. That our pain yields the richest fruit. I think of that in terms of my children, not wanting them to experience pain, but I know it will change them. Always love your thoughts.

  17. DeborahJoy

    My heart went all squeezy (and it ached, too) reading your post, and all the comments that followed…
    None of us can manage without love and care….and it makes me think about what more I need to do to respond to others who need love and care. I’ll be looking for the signs.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Deborah-Joy, its nice to have you in this conversation. Me too. I am listening for the whisper, to be a surrogate to those in need.

  18. Sandra Heska King

    And so He allows you to ache so you can feel the ache of others–really feel it and be moved to compassion. God bless your aunt. God bless you.

    • Redemption's Beauty

      Yes, I think that is it. Why I am here on this earth perhaps. God is good.

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