Learning Empathy

28/07/2016 16:19
I’m not ardent shopper. No, I’d rather walk in nature’s bounty rather than in shopping malls. The lights that attract me are not neon lights. I’m drawn instead to the glittering stars that twinkle in the velvet sky, the majestic sun which rises high, spilling golden beams in its wake, the friendly moon as it sheds silver moonlight abroad a sleeping world. Doing my weekly shopping is one way of taking care of my loved ones, but I’m relieved when it’s done.
Some months ago, as I cruised around my local supermarket, I found changes were afoot—too many of them. I didn’t know where anything was any more. I stopped to ask for items umpteen times. When I walked into another supermarket half an hour later, you might understand my irritation. They were doing it too. There were plenty of bewildered shoppers, looking here, looking there, looking everywhere. Our grocery shopping experience had turned into a nightmare.
The next week the groceries had been moved again—in both stores. I sighed. I stomped. I sizzled. The shopping got done. Eventually. But I trusted that it would be sorted out by my next shopping trip. One could only hope. Alas, the following week it was no different. Perhaps a little more confusing. But then …something strange occurred. As I watched the electricians fixing one part of the store, as I gazed at workers scurrying to and fro moving grocery items, as I glimpsed some of them in deep consultation, it struck me with force what was going on. They were in my writer’s jargon, editing. Editing? Yes, editing.
For the past few weeks, I’d been trying to figure out why the supermarkets constantly shifted things around. Was it just an unnecessary ploy of the 21st century world to modify everything all of the time, no matter if change was essential or not? Didn’t they realise that when their customers couldn't find what they needed, they would buy less, not more?
That blinding flash of realisation placed clear glasses on my nose. The supermarkets were refining their stores, in the same way I love to refine my stories. I have the luxury of doing it in the comfort of my home without a hundred people walking past me, demanding this or that. But their amendments have to take place while life goes on. Not an easy job is it? It’s like my story being read while I was editing it. A generous dose of understanding warmed my heart. What was previously an annoyance was now taken in my stride. Perceiving the why behind their doings, made all the difference.
Isn’t life like that too? Other people’s actions might sometimes seem alien and hostile to us. Perhaps we need to ask God to remove our blinkers. Life improves with empathy—both on the giver’s side as well as the receiver’s. Has your neighbour angered you by her actions? Has your co-worker’s behavior stumped you? Has your spouse or child annoyed you? Perhaps we need to walk in their moccasins for awhile. There’s always a different perspective—one we don’t readily see.
Are you ready to put on new glasses?
I could lend you my new pair if you like!

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, 

as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32