An Empathy Lesson

Rich Dixon’s back with more teaching,


Last time I wondered why an innocent request for directions caused a stranger to threaten me with a shovel.

I was a bit frustrated by a blocked trail, a hand-scrawled map, and a morning filled with minor, irritating interruptions. This incident recalled an important truth:

It’s not about me!

The rest of the world isn’t focused on my dreams and goals. My project wasn’t the center of this guy’s universe.

His world was cold, dirty, hard work, and I was a guy in a fancy bike jersey who got to play around on a workday while he struggled to make a living. Maybe his wife yelled at him as he left for work. Maybe he didn’t know if he’d have a job once this project ended.

Perhaps he prayed that morning for God to bless his work, to allow others to understand and be a bit more tolerant and appreciative. Maybe he wondered about God’s answer to his prayers as he stood ankle deep in mud, drenched by hours of rain, digging for who-knows-what to satisfy an impatient boss.

And perhaps he wondered why God would send a guy on a weird-looking bike looking for a stupid trail.

What if construction-guy was frustrated by a morning filled with minor, irritating interruptions, by people like me who perceived his work as “getting in the way” of their important activities? Maybe he and I both wondered that morning about God’s response to our prayers.

I hope I didn’t seem impatient or irritated when I asked for help. But I know I didn’t try to see what life looked like from his boots.

I only wanted to get where I wanted to go. The construction project at the center of their world was just another obstacle in my path.

It’s not about me.

To be continued…