“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,

as God in Christ forgave you.”

Ephesians 4:32

“So what did you learn from this?”

After weeks of studying for a securities law exam, I was taken aback by Michol’s question. What have I learned? Really? You’re asking me what I’ve learned?

From memory, I rattled off a list of topics that had become a daily part of my review: “Security rules and regulations! The difference between SEC laws and state laws! I can calculate the standard deviation of five numbers, the future value of an investment, arithmetic mean. I know the difference between calls and puts, market and limit orders, whole and variable life insurance products. My study guide is 709 pages. What have I learned?”

Without hesitation, Michol replied, “How about empathy?”

I laughed. Surely, she jests.

At home that afternoon, I nodded in agreement. Besides the information necessary to pass my Series 65 test, I’d gotten a bigger lesson in empathy. For weeks, I’d been studying the intricacies of investment law at both the state and federal levels. I’d plowed through problem after problem in quantitative analysis. My head hurt. My eyes ached. I was tired and irritable. With my testing date looming, I grabbed my highlighter and re-entered Chapter 9. I took one more practice quiz. Did I say that I was tired and irritable?

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

Romans 12:15

Yes, I learned empathy. For two long months, 9 weeks, 67 days, I studied between two and four hours a day. I started #MindNumbingMondays on Facebook, posting the latest drudgingly dry, tediously wearisome concept from each chapter. I took walks and then I took a nap. Did I say that I was tired and irritable?

Empathy? Staring at the formula for an alpha calculation, I froze. Every day I get to micromanage all the moving pieces of the boss’ financial planning practice. I get to write books and share thoughts and ideas in blog posts, speaking engagements, and videos. I get to enjoy the sunshine and lunches with my guys. I get to!

Not everyone “gets to.” Some of us have mind-numbing weeks, not just days. Some of us have had to make difficult choices in order to provide for families, in order to maintain health insurance coverage, in order to do what needed to be done at the time. It’s tiring. We find ourselves a little irritable, not at our finest when the afternoon falls apart. Yes, empathy. Not everyone is having a happy-happy-joy-joy moment while I’m enjoying a quick walk in the sunshine.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,

for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 7:12