"So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste"
Confession engenders sympathy. After my last post (which I send out as an e-mail to many), I got several sympathetic responses:
Empathy for my situation:
"Believe me, I understand what you are saying. If I were to go home and apologize to my wife for going to lunch with a female co-worker, she would say it is my guilty conscience talking and then accuse me of cheating. She then would hit me with a million questions about the situation in an attempt to prove (to herself) that I'm lying. I have lived this way for most of my married life."
Minimizing the offense:
"I don't see that one time as a big deal, though I know that one thing can lead to another."
Lamenting the expectations for men:
"It sucks that we as men have to think more about certain situations (i.e. you going out with your co-worker for a bite) but that's what we're called to do I guess, especially in a married situation."
It's an interesting phenomenon. Have you experienced it? While I appreciate the care that each one expresses in their sympathy, I have to wonder at my own response to it. My flesh desires to be consoled, to have my offense minimized, to have the pain removed. But, my spirit is concerned about how the offended (my wife, my co-worker, the LORD) would perceive the consolation and my acceptance of it. In my spirit I know that as I allow the sympathy in, it hinders my learning from my own offense.
Sometimes we rush to console, empathize, sympathize and minimize an offense, to try to assuage the resulting pain, when in reality the offender may benefit from, learn from, the offense and the resulting pain.
"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."