“We specially created this office to be open and inviting. All should now be imbued with a team spirit and be happy and productive. Thank you.” Guy smiled that permanent toothy grin that he held in his back pocket for “special” occasions, neatly straightened is slightly untucked button-down blue shirt into his slacks, clipped his high-end pen with the thick ergonomic grip next to his backup pen and onto his company notebook, and padded quickly and efficiently out of the packed company meeting room, never meeting another person’s eyes.
I watched him go, forcing empathy as I turned back to the last image of the 150-page PowerPoint presentation that we had just endured. National Geographic’s photograph of the Waterfall at Canyon George in Oregon with a thought attached.
That image feels just like this company, I mused. The quiet underpinnings of those who “knew that the boss didn’t care”, of those who hated what they saw as unfair treatment, of those sympathized with icy words, are all but waterfalls from islands of immovable rock in this company. They are dangerous obstacles, hiding hidden snares from those who had places to go. They look. They analyze. They offer endless opinions. They incessantly wine about the horror of it all. Yet, they never move, never grow beyond it, never achieve what they were meant to achieve, and always find another person that they can blame.
I cannot stand still as I do with unfeeling sympathy, or be blinded by hatred and blaming and complaining. Empathy walks in another’s shoes, understands the challenges, while not necessarily agreeing.
I must move. I must move with the currents of empathy, see through the hardened eyes of an out-of-touch boss, and discover the hidden obstacles that he too must navigate. Does that not provide me with more information to ensure a better journey? Does that not allow me to stack more skills that are available for me to use? Does that not allow me to give kindness to another, who may not deserve it, as that is how God has always treated me.
I am a follower of Christ. I must trust that the leader that I have committed to follow has already gone down this path. I must trust that He will take care of me. I must trust that He can open my eyes to new ways to travel though life’s painful and challenging current. I must trust that He will put people in my path who have the eyes to see the obstacles that I cannot see. I must trust, knowing that trust is an action, not a noun. And empathy opens my eyes, with each new step building my trust and hope.
Now, I am not a victim of an uncaring boss, am not an immovable rock of complaints about a situation that I do not like, am not a waterfall that hides snares from other travelers. I am a conduit of empathy moving to the destination where I long to reach. I am HIS follower.