Caring is painful. It just is. It costs us something. Believe it or not, one of my favorite anacronyms is, “IDC.” I Don’t Care. It means, I haven’t got the time, energy, or emotional investment to give to this matter. That’s a true story! The number of things in the modern world demanding our attention range from the tragic to the outright foolish.
“IDC” is like peace for my soul sometimes, rest for my battered heart.
However, another name for “caring” is love, in the biblical definition, and we are told, “by this all men shall know you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” We can slip the word “caring” in there and come up with, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but do not care about others, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”
I mention this because there are so many Christian authors, pastors, writing about the horrors of empathy, the danger of feelings, the wickedness of our heart that cares, who can know it, and I just want to scream because it is like, how in the world did you guys manage to miss the entire message of the gospel??
But another part of me gets it, there’s a part that can really relate to the avoidance, to the recoiling that happens when you are faced with this tsunami of emotion from other people, all who want you to care. And of course, they usually want you to care about their concerns while being completely unwilling to do anything about it themselves.
“Everybody wants to change the world, nobody wants to change themselves.” Somebody smart said that, can’t remember who.
Proverbs 25:28 is really good in this context, “Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.” Self control is actually a fruit of the spirit. Sometimes people get really avoidant or really down on feelings because of fear and a lack of self control. They have no walls around their own city and whose fault is that?? Everyone else who has all these icky feelings and caring….
Joe Rigney wrote this article for Desiring God called, “the enticing sin of empathy.”
Ai yi yi. I’ve written a fair amount about empathy myself, about how it isn’t morality, about how distorted and perverse it can become. Just the same, I remain completely unconvinced that what is wrong with our world is too much empathy, too much caring, too much coming alongside one another in our suffering and pain.