On Learning Empathy: A Metamorphosis Story

From elder Danny Champion, to end our Metamorphosis communion series:

I hate hospitals. I hate the smell. I hate the interruption of my day. After all, at the time, the hospital was about a three minute drive in light traffic from my house. I hate the reason hospitals have to exist – that is, the suffering. I hate visiting hospitals. For years, I avoided hospitals like the plague. Then, one day about nine years ago, I entered the hospital for what was supposed to be a 4-5 day visit and ended up staying two weeks. To be honest, I had lots and lots of visitors. There were people who I never thought would visit who showed up. I was not that I had any conflict with these people, I just did not have a very strong relationship with them. Then, there were people who I expected to visit, people I had a relationship with them, who did not show up. I figured they were like me and did not like hospitals. And, there were countless hours of total isolation. It was during these long quiet hours that I was being transformed both physically and spiritually. 

Physically, I was being healed. That was the easy part. Spiritually, I was being transformed into a more empathetic person. I was able to walk in the shoes, or at least wear the gown, of someone who was laid up in a hospital room for days on end. I was a different person when I left. All of a sudden, I was actively looking for people from church that were in the hospital. When I received the weekly church bulletin, I was looking for people who were either in the hospital or were going into the hospital. I visited people who I had to introduce myself to because they did not recognize me outside of the church building. (Maybe, I should have worn a tie.) 

This change only came because I was able to see the importance of the human touch from both sides. Since I have moved here, I have not been able to visit as many people in the hospital as I would like. Some of you are a little more than three minutes away and sometimes, you are out of the hospital before I can get there. But, I do pray for every person I read about who I in the hospital. Sometimes, I have to look your picture up in the directory, but I do pray for you.

Jesus experienced our suffering from both sides of heaven. He sees how we suffer while setting at the right hand of God and he experienced how we suffer first hand while he walked on the earth. And let’s be honest. My suffering was nothing compared to the suffering Jesus experienced on our behalf. But, it is through Jesus’ suffering that we are being changed.

As we are remember the suffering Jesus experienced on our behalf, let us remember how His suffering transforms us a little bit each day.  

We gather to offer thanksgiving for the suffering Christ, crushed and made new. We gather to offer thanksgiving for our own suffering, suffering making us new.