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Be Kind — A Journey to Radical Empathy



In the most gentle and kindest voice, I want to ask myself the profound question that Charles Bukowski asked: "Who were you before the world told you who you are?"


The sweetest voice within whispers, "You are a star, shining so brightly that even the angels are in awe of your beauty. You are perfect, and nothing you can do or say can cast a shadow on the reality of who you really are. Give yourself permission to tell yourself who you are. Open your heart to the possibility of who you were before the world told you who to be. This is sacred space. Be kind."


I am like a tortoise; I find solace in my fears. Hiding away from you, from myself, from God. Staying small! What if I dared to move out of my comfort zone? What if, for a fleeting moment, with my mind, body, and heart, with absolute acceptance, I see the beauty of me the way God sees me? What does it look like to be whole? What does it feel like to be whole? What does it sound like to be whole? What if I dared to say the words out loud? What if I took a tiny peek?


Recently, I was privileged to attend a talk given by Professor Jonathan Jensen, who spoke about the urgent need for radical empathy in our world. This struck a chord within me, as we need radical empathy for ourselves as well. I know I need radical empathy - for my programmed self - the self that protects me at all costs. How can I have radical empathy for others if I don't have radical empathy for the "sinful" me? The one I show to the world.


While I sit here contemplatively writing these thoughts, I am aware of the bustling sounds coming from our busy neighbors. My dog, sensing the unfamiliar sounds, becomes jittery; these noises are not normal. She jumps onto the bed (yes, she is allowed) and positions herself on my lap (she is not a small dog), shielding me with her body and voicing her disapproval with soft warning growls. She has now positioned herself between me and the noise, sniffing the air ever alert. She will not leave her post of protector until the noise stops or I move away. This is a perfect representation of how I am. Something strange and unfamiliar presents itself, like the small whispers above, and I growl and protect my programmed self, dismissing these truths as egotistical. How can you believe you are the apple of God's eye? What nonsense! And there I go back into the tortoise shell, hiding from me, from God, and from you.


Every time I stick my head out, my programming eagerly reminds me of how small I am. At this moment, I am courageously disregarding the growls of my subconscious programming. I believe that I am the radiating apple of God's eye. I am embracing radical empathy for the me I present to the world. At this moment, I am choosing, for this moment, I am Love. At this moment, I am Kind!


I am continually grateful to be found on this profound journey of radical empathy, radical love, and self-acceptance. It is with every transformative step taken - one moment at a time - that breaks me free from societal conditioning while embracing my truest and me-est me. Considering Bukowski's question while embracing what Matt Kahn says, "whatever arises, love that!" I always want to choose to radiate love, extend empathy, and fearlessly express love to me, to you, and to others by embracing the beauty that lies within us all.


To Be Kind!

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I love the way that kindness becomes the escape out of the tortoise shell and the courage beyond the inner dog. Bukowski's quote is great!! As always, I love your writing. Thank you!

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What a beautiful post, Tracey! Thank you for shining a light on how hard it is to see oneself through our God's eyes. Radical Empathy is such a profound idea and unpopular approach to the world but how essential it is. You've given me much food for thought and also brought a smile to my face as I, too, have a dog who isn't small at all but who constantly needs reassurance. Now I don't feel so bad about letting him on the bed either!

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What a truly brilliant reflection! Tracey, thank you immensely for nurturing this idea into existence. It feels like a birthing indeed—an idea that has been germinating within you for quite some time. It captures the wide-eyed wonder of a child and the exhilaration of unwrapping a present tucked beneath a tree on a momentous occasion. And now, it's as if every day, every moment, presents itself as an opportunity to unwrap new gifts. Every moment becomes a "Christmas moment" in the best possible sense. I really resonated with this post. Thank you.

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