Writing this for friends who are struggling with their faith and those in the throws of the half empty cups of life:
When people are in ‘ish, and I mean tough, brutal, painful stuff where trauma has occurred and the hurt is beyond deep, don’t be spiritual with them.
Be relational instead.
Telling someone you will pray or quoting a Bible verse or reminding them what your favorite theologian/pastor/teacher/author said could feel more impersonal than you intend.
Those spiritual things, while sometimes helpful, still keep you at a distance from their pain where you can be safe, protected, not involved and unaffected.
But a relational response means you choose to get into the dirt, the mud, the ‘ish with them and look them straight in the eyes and say I’m in this with you. You are not alone. You are not alone.
I think this how empathy differs from sympathy. Sympathy expresses concern and sadness for someone as they experience deep pain. Empathy, by definition, allows you to understand and share in the feelings of another.
The best teacher I know who does this: Jesus.