Hey, my friends. Welcome back to Let’s Encourage One Another, where we talk about caring for the hurting soul—whether that is yours or someone you love.
My name is Kari Bartkus, and as we get started today, I have a question for you: Are you a thermometer or a thermostat?
As women, we’ve had this metaphor held up before us. As a thermometer, we read the temperature, as it were, of the room we’re in. We can tell who is having a good day, who is having a bad day, and the general atmosphere of the room—whether we’re at home with our family, at church for Bible study, or at work in a meeting.
Often, we’ve been encouraged to be thermostats, especially in the home. Instead of reading the temperature of the room, we’re supposed to “set it” by our words and actions. And in this way, we can change the atmosphere into one of peace or fun or whatever it is we feel the room needs.
A recent article by Mary Carver, which I’ll link to in the show notes, got me thinking about how each of these—a thermometer and a thermostat—is useful for caring for others, just in different ways.
So today, I wanted to explore that idea with you.
Thermometers: You See What Others Don’t See
Now, I know that you all care deeply about others. So let me ask you this:
- Can you tell when someone’s upset, even when they are acting “normally”?
- Do you notice when a waitress or cashier is having a hard day?
- Do you just “know” when a child or spouse or friend is struggling with something?
- Can you walk into a room and immediately feel tension, or anxiety, or sadness?
If so, you probably relate to being a thermometer, or an empath. You feel what others are feeling. While others ignore or overlook the person sitting quietly or off to themselves, you’re drawn to them. You watch them. You try to catch their eyes. You try to figure out what’s going on. But at the very least, you recognize that something is wrong, because you feel it, too. You take on their feelings.
These are people who truly see what others don’t see. They see past the masks, past the shields, past the walls into the heart of someone. And they don’t just see it; they care enough to reach out. And that is such a gift.
One of the challenges of being an empath like this is that we can often allow someone else’s feelings to impact us too much. If someone we care about is sad, we’re sad with them—for the rest of the day. Their mood changes ours. And while we certainly want to weep with those who weep, we want to be sure that we are not carrying that burden on our own, but taking them to the Lord in prayer.
When we let the suffering and anxiety of others overtake us, we tend to detach emotionally or isolate ourselves from others. It’s our attempt to shut out the hurt for awhile, to recalibrate our souls. Again, I invite us to take these things to the Lord. When it all feels like it’s too much—before it begins to feel like it’s too much—go to the Lord. Pray about what you see, what you’re experiencing, what others around you are experiencing. Let Him be the one to help you recalibrate.
In her article, Mary Carver wrote, “Rather than feeling guilty for being overly sensitive or too emotional, I’m seeing now that being perceptive and responsive can allow us to connect deeply with people and quickly desire to help when they’re in need. God can work through our empathy to make us safe spaces for people with heavy burdens.”
Thermostats: You Bring Peace and Love When Others Need It
So women who are thermometers can pick up on how others are feeling. They see things that others might not see. And that is such a gift.
But so is being a thermostat. This is not a “one is better than the other” situation, but both truly do have their purpose.
Remember that women who are thermostats can set or change the temperature of the room simply by being in it. Are you like this?
- Your peaceful countenance exudes from you and brings peace to those around you.
- Your joy bursts and helps others smile and laugh, even when they are having a hard day.
- Your reliability brings stability and security to someone whose world just got turned upside down.
- Your quietness invites others to calm their souls and sit in the silence with God.
- Your confidence in the Lord allows others to begin to hope, maybe even for the first time, that everything will be okay.
It’s pretty incredible.
Sometimes, it doesn’t even take any words, does it? It’s simply the manner in which we carry ourselves.
- You sit quietly in the hospital room with your friend.
- You give someone a smile from across the room.
- You sit next to someone who is having a hard day.
And just by you being you, you change the spirit of the atmosphere around you.
What once was tense is now filled with peace.
What once was afraid is now filled with confidence.
Even more than that, all of us have the ability to impact the atmosphere around us.
Rebekah Fox wrote, “My kindness and gentleness… my stress and frustration actually do something in the environment. Not the air, or the heat. But the atmosphere. The state of my heart affects everyone. For better, or for worse.”
But for women who are wired in this way, it just comes more naturally to them. Their kindness, gentleness, joy, patience, peace becomes that Christ-like fragrance that is such a gift from God (see 2 Corinthians 2:15). And they can use it to care for others in a way that is sometimes more indirect, but just as important as those offering specific help.
The challenge for these women, perhaps, is not to use their gift as a way to manipulate others. Only to serve. To love. To draw others closer to Christ in their pain.
Serving Those Around You
So do you see yourself as either of these—a thermometer or a thermostat? Maybe you even see bits of both?
Can you think of others around you who are also gifted in these ways?
However God has designed you, my friend, I want to encourage you to use that as a way to serve those around you. Love them well through their hard seasons in life. And let it draw you closer to the Lord, as well—asking for His guidance, His discernment, His strength, His compassion—as you care for those around you.
I’d love to know your thoughts about all this, to hear your stories and examples of how you or those you know care for others in these ways. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and remember, my name is spelled K-A-R-I.
That is all for today, my friends. Until next time… let’s encourage one another.
RESOURCES + BIBLE VERSES:
- Article: The Gift—and Superpower—of Being an Empath, by Mary Carver
- Article: I Set the Thermostat: How a Woman’s Attitude Affects the Whole House, by Rebekah Fox
- “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God…” (2 Corinthians 2:15 NLT)
INTERESTED IN WRITTEN SPIRITUAL DIRECTION?
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