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March 23, 2017

The Problem With Your Gifts

Every Wednesday morning, the entire Ramsey Solutions staff gathers in our conference center for devotions. But these aren’t your typical ho-hum devotions where a sleepy speaker reads a story, ties it to a Bible verse, and wraps up with some...

The Problem With Your Gifts

Every Wednesday morning, the entire Ramsey Solutions staff gathers in our conference center for devotions. But these aren’t your typical ho-hum devotions where a sleepy speaker reads a story, ties it to a Bible verse, and wraps up with some cliché saying like “Let go and let God.” Not even close! Dave Ramsey brings in world-class A-list speakers, authors, musicians, pastors and athletes to teach, encourage and inspire us on a weekly basis.

Davey Blackburn, the pastor at Resonate Church in Indianapolis, was our devo speaker a little while back and the story he shared still haunts me to this day. You may have heard about it on the national news back in 2015, but I hadn’t, so hearing Davey tell his tragic story for the first time shook me to the core. His pregnant wife, Amanda, was killed during a home invasion. Their other child, Weston, was just 15 months old at the time, and left unharmed in the crib upstairs.

Davey took us through his heart-wrenching emotions of losing the woman he loved, adjusting to life as a single dad, and keeping the faith at the same time. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room, but I wasn’t just crying, I couldn’t breathe and I was almost hysterical. I sat there in the crowd with mascara running down my cheeks, sucking in air through my teeth trying to maintain my composure—it was almost too much for me.

While that was one of the more extreme situations, it’s not the first time I’ve hurt for someone that I don’t even know. I was sensitive before, but motherhood has brought out a new level of vulnerability and empathy that I’m honestly not sure what to do with sometimes. I have to turn off the news on a daily basis because I can’t handle it: A drunk driver. A baby left in a car. A home invasion. Abuse. Murder. And on and on and on.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that these stories literally keep me up at night. I can’t help but feel what I imagine the spouses and parents and families of these victims are feeling. I find myself crying for people I don’t even know.

And as I was sitting there in the crowd listening to Davey, I couldn’t help but wish that God would take away that feeling. I wish I could distance myself and not care so much. And in that moment, I felt God say, “I’ve given you the gift of empathy, Christy. And you can’t selectively turn it off. It’s what allows you to connect with people as a speaker and writer. It’s what helps you relate to that woman who’s scared to launch her business, or the mom who’s trying to juggle it all. This quality that feels like a burden that you want to turn off is actually a wonderful gift.

I love how God gave me that perspective in that moment.

But I’m not the only one that struggles with this. My friend Diana told me that her struggle is perfectionism.  Diana said, “A lot of times being a perfectionist is a roadblock for me because if I get too caught up in the details, I can’t push the project through. But on the other hand, I catch things that other people don’t catch. So even though sometimes I wish I wasn’t such a perfectionist, at the end of the day, I’m glad I have that because it helps me excel in my job.”

Maybe there’s something in your life that feels like a burden or even a weakness. It might feel like a flaw or a fault. But I want to remind you that the very same quality might be an incredible gift. You can’t selectively turn off that gift when it’s inconvenient, as much as we might like to sometimes. Of course at times it might feel like a burden, like when I have a heavy heart because I can’t separate myself from others’ struggles, but it’s also a gift. And your qualities are as well.

When you look at it from that perspective, it feels less like a problem and more like a privilege.

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  1. I come from a loud family of very assertive people. I am by nature assertive, loud, and not afraid to go after what I want. It might take me a while but when I set my eyes on a prize, it’s mine for sure. That’s what allowed me to move to the US at the age of 17 and become a very productive member of my new home the states. I often feel that I wish I could be quieter, less assertive and in the face of people when I really get excited about a topic. For the last 8 years, it’s been a debt free lifestyle. Just yesterday at a lady’s breakfast, I got on my soap box that if you could not make it in America with the country with such great economic opportunities, where in the world would you expect to actually make it? I don’t try to cuddle people’s I am a victim position. Now I am trying to figure out how to use this side of me to benefit others. There was a reason that God created me this way and not a quiet spoken meek person that I often find myself wishing I could be.

  2. Caroline Carlson says:

    Wow Christy, THANK YOU for this post! THIS is what I needed this week. I thought I was the only mom who sometimes wakes up in the night worrying about all kinds of things I have no control over. I’ve always been empathetic, but have gotten much more sensitive to tragic news stories since having children. I have long thought I should just “toughen up.” Now I’m thinking differently. Your post has given me the beautiful gift of appreciating this quality in my self! Thank you, thank you for what you do.

  3. Jessica says:

    Thank you! I’m in tears writing this but I just have to express my gratitude. I can completely relate to your gift, I’m right there with you but never had clarity on why I feel such extreme emotion for others hurt and loss. After I became a mom it went to a whole new level. I too had to turn the news off and steel myself against numerous stories of loss and tragedy. But seeing this as an extension of my gift of empathy is freeing!

  4. Julie Franklin says:

    Thank you for this important reminder! I know so many women who struggle with this, and it’s sometimes hard to remember that empathy is truly a gift and not a burden. This is especially true when we find ourselves drowning from trying to love and help others, simply because we haven’t taken the time to personally rest, refresh, and renew. It’s most definitely a challenge, but it’s important that we understand that we can help SO MANY MORE people when we learn to make taking care of ourselves a priority. Thank you for sharing your gifts with others, Christy, and for helping so many women find the courage to step out and start living their dreams.

  5. Towanda says:

    I can really relate to your gift Christy. I too am very in tune with the emotions of other people. I not only cry and hurt for the pain that they feel when they faced tragedy and heartbreak but I also cry and laugh joyfully for the victories and achievements they experience. It can be very difficult when you are surrounded by others and it’s an awkward situation to have those emotions flow forth from within in, especially in a professional setting. I definitely see where the gift part comes in, but I struggle with keeping it in check, for lack of a better phrase. Thank you for sharing your gift with all of us.