My agent has told me more than once that I can be a bit esoteric. There, you have been warned.
I have been recently convicted about a particular bent I have. The same agent who described me as esoteric also identified my arrogance. I own that arrogance, but I don’t let it define me. As someone truly empathic, I understand people on a deep level. It is a gift and a curse. It’s a gift when I can understand another and help them through a tough spot. It’s a curse when I pile on my own judgement of them and eisegete their situation.
Enter the Father of Existentialism.
I have always been a fan of Kierkegaard. His works have been a balm for my particular “bent” because he seems to have suffered similarly. He wrote a brilliant book called Either/Or. In this book, he stresses the need in life to choose. That is, he proposes that we live only when we make distinctions and act on them.
Then came the idea of “Both/And.” In an “Either/Or” life, creativity and fullness come from distinctions. In the “Both/And” life, it comes from seeing what is there (yes I’m an empath), understanding how it works and making it work in your bit of the universe. This approach challenges me. My very important distinctions only matter in this world when I integrate those distinctions in my life.
What does this mean? It means that instead of making distinctions that separate, I choose to find those that include those differences. I think this is the key to how Jesus did discipleship.
When Jesus discipled others, he saw many of the differences and challenges they faced. It didn’t separate him from a person, it moved him to compassion. In this way, Jesus made a connection with people others thought hopeless. Jesus was an expert at making connections.
When I disciple someone, I want to connect with them deeply. I want to be able to see them for who they are. If I let this empathy call out distinctions in my life and eisegete my story into theirs, I will always fail. When I can empathize with them and be moved to compassion, God will win.