Empathizing is something we all need to learn how to do. Empathizing with the female reader will allow you to step back and identify how your words might impact the reader. Empathizing with your characters allows you to bring out the different lenses and colors women look through. Put yourself in the position of the woman.
Let’s continue with our passage as an example.
“During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. 21 The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne.”
The other woman said, “No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours.”
But the first one insisted, “No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.” And so they argued before the king.” (I Kings 3:19-22 NIV)
Where does your attention turn? Are you drawn to the woman who had her baby stolen or the woman who accidentally smothered her child? Or perhaps you are saying, “Poor Solomon! He has to deal with these two women.”
We have the facts:
One mother accidentally lay on her child and he died.
She took her baby and placed it by her friend
She took her friend’s baby
She lied about the baby being hers
Now let’s Empathize. There are two directions the story can be told. If you have a third, I would love to hear it.
#1 – Imagine a new mother. Think about the new mothers in your circle. This mother nursed her child in the night, just like any other mother in the world. At some point sleep took over and she accidentally lay on her baby. The result of that tragic moment meant death for her child.
The mother awakes in the night only to succumb to the realization of what just happened. She grabs the baby, pulls it to her chest, perhaps rubs its face, and then weeps. (My interpretation)
We know she got up with the baby and entered her friend’s room. Why? To tell her friend what happened? Now let’s suppose she did walk into the room to tell her friend. But in that moment she looks down at the living child and decides – in her state of mind – to place her dead child by her friend’s and pick the living one up. She draws the baby to her heart and feels his beating heart against hers. In that one moment she determines that her child did not die – the one she held was hers. She decides in that one moment not to embrace the wound or emotion of what just happened. She declares the living child is hers. And we understand that denial is one of the stages of grief.
#2 – Or perhaps it happened this way: She wakes in the night to see she accidentally smothered her child to death. She gets up, enters her friend’s room, places her child beside her friend and walks away. Never giving a thought to her own child. If this is what happened, this woman would appear to be very calloused and cold toward her own child, as well as her friend. Based on how God created women, which scenario makes more sense to you?
When writing to women, think about how God created women. Whether writing non-fiction or fiction, empathizing with the character or situation will shift your thinking and allow you to go much deeper.