Middle-age affords some luxuries – the ability to make honest assessments and new choices.
I remember when I first felt such empowerment. It began the morning I sat upon the paper-wrapped examining table for my annual exam. I had sat on that table every January for the past six years, and each time, I felt the same chill and entertained the same thoughts.
“I really don’t like this doctor.”
Then I would remind myself, “You don’t need to like her; you just need to respect her expertise.”
I argued back to myself, “She is cold and has no bedside manner.”
“She doesn’t have to be your best friend, just competent.”
And so the conversation would go until it would be interrupted by the phantom doctor I had been talking to myself about. “Maybe this will be the year she smiles,” I thought.
But by the dull, monotone sound of her voice, I realized this wasn’t the year for her smile. She began to drone through her usual questions about new meds I may be on and commenting on weight, blood pressure and such.
“She still hasn’t looked up at me,” I thought. I knew she hadn’t because her voice was drowning into the rustling papers in her hands. She was obviously talking down to the floor–probably just staring at her clipboard.
Then the exam began. I am certain she is a fine doctor, but truly, I have had better interactions with empty cardboard boxes. (And they’re much cheaper.) She finished with her exam within minutes.
She asked, “Do you have any questions?” with a tone of voice that suggested, “You better say no,” and then ran out of the room before I had finished answering.
As I dressed, I thought, “I am 46 years old. I have gone to this doc for seven years. I have never liked this doctor. I will never return.” I felt strangely empowered as I left the receptionist desk without an appointment for the following year.
But then, the following year arrived and it was time for another doctor. I found a GP who could give me an annual physical, and when she entered my examining room, she was effusive and warm. “I like her,” I thought. “She’s more interesting than a cardboard box.”
She asked questions while she made eye contact with me. I could tell she was not only looking at me, but she was studying me. Her voice never fell flatly on the ground and was not once swallowed by a clipboard! She listened, took her time, and even the room didn’t feel so frigid! Then she told me that we were the same age and many of the changes I was experiencing, she was, too.
“I really like her,” I thought.
When I told her I was having trouble remembering like I used to, she could relate. When I told her I felt fuzzy-headed and more moody than I used to, she laughed because she was dealing with those things, too.
“There’s something that can help with your memory and moods,” she said. “It’s called…uh, um…it’s called…uh, um…. It’s a supplement…. You’ve heard of it…. What is it called? I forgot what it’s called!” she exclaimed. Then she said, “I’ll be right back. Let me go look it up in the book in my office. I know what it’s called! I can’t believe I can’t remember!” As she walked out to her desk to confirm the name of a supplement, I laughed and thought, “I really like having a doctor who knows what it feels like to be me, but is capable of healing me!”
I once read, “Only that in you which is me can hear what I’m saying.” To me, that’s empathy.
And that’s what I experienced with my new BFF doctor! I love having a doctor who can give more than sympathy or expertise. This doctor was able to give empathy. There’s something very attractive and affirming about a physician who can empathize because they know what it’s like to be sick, feel pain and age. Somehow, my doctor’s ability to identify with my maladies made me trust her even more. I knew she understood-I knew she cared.
We have a Great Physician who can offer us far more than sympathy and expertise. We have a powerful, Great Physician who can give the sweetest gift–empathy. He knows, He cares and He can heal. Jesus is our healer, our wounded healer.”He was despised and forsaken of men. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…” (Isaiah 53:3).
Our Messiah bore our grief and carried our sorrows. Jesus was oppressed and afflicted. He was acquainted with grief.
He knew what it felt like. And He still does. He has not forgotten what pain feels like.
Jesus is not the cold, distant physician who won’t make eye contact with your questions and suffering. And He is not the detached physician who hurries out of your pain. In His humanity, He chose to patiently walk our roads, feel our pain and cry our tears. But in His deity, He is able to carry us over our difficult roads when we are just too weary to walk them alone. He bears and heals our pain, and He wipes away our tears.
During these final few days of Lent, turn your eyes upon the One who bore and still bears your sorrow. Worthy is the Lamb.
Well, that’s what’s been percolating in me lately!
What’s been percolating in you? Leave a comment here.