diving boardEarly this week, someone asked if I thought American’s had too little empathy. I didn’t have to think very long.  Yes, I think we lack empathy. Of course, I meant other people, not my friend or I.

As so often happens, something happened later in the week that would bring this conversation to mind.

During a swim meet, I was chatting with one of the other moms.  She said something about “just wait ‘til these boys get a taste of the real world.”

I’m not sure how much more reality most teens can take. As I looked down at the deck, I saw the boy whose father was killed 18 months ago in a traffic accident. There were the twins whose mother died of breast cancer and the brothers whose parents are divorcing but can’t afford to live apart so they’ve divided the house.

“High school isn’t easy.” I didn’t want to air other people’s issues but I had to say something.

“Look, they don’t have mortgages or have to work all day,” she said.

“No, but they have shelter in place and school shootings. And bullying and gay bashing. Do you know how many gay teens a year attempt suicide?”

“Anyone who takes that way out is defective.”

Defective.  That was the word that pushed me over the edge. I would like to say I took a deep breath and said a little prayer. But I didn’t.  In my mother’s words, I got on my high horse.

I will never ever agree with what she said, but I do get the irony. She has no empathy with high schoolers and I have no empathy with her.

And I’ve been beating myself up about it for days. But that’s pretty ironic too.

I made a mistake. I’m kind of defective that way. That’s why I need grace. And those boys need grace. And so do all the moms, dads and coaches.  Because we all mess up and, far too often, we completely fail to empathize with each other.

Fortunately, even then we can turn to God. We can pour out our hearts and bemoan our failings.  We can rant and rave and fuss.  And, in the end, in spite of our defects, His Grace will be there for us all. Thank God.