“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
~Romans 12:15

My dog Shakespeare balked at jumping into the back seat of the car. I thought it odd, as he is usually excited to go places. Eventually, I convinced him to get in. Once we ran our errands and got home, he balked at walking up the stairs. Quickly, I connected the dots. He had hurt his back and was in pain. It’s happened before. I gently picked him up and carried him inside and put him in his dog bed.

I had major back surgery when I was 21. Most of my back is fused together. I can empathize with sweet Shakespeare’s pain, because years ago, I had pain too. It is easy to recognize someone’s pain if we’ve experienced something similar, but not so easy if we haven’t.

I’m learning to ask others, “What does that feel like?” when they tell me things I haven’t experienced, and I don’t have a reference point. We don’t have to fully understand someone’s pain to be helpful. All we have to do is to listen and to give someone our time and attention. Lending someone our ears, and our arms for a comforting hug is often the best medicine on the planet. In Shakespeare’s case, it’s a trip to the vet, rest, and lot’s of my attention—and some dog treats!

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