This summer I've spent more time and money fixing my car than I ever have before.
All the men in my life have advised me never to take my car in for repairs by myself because as a woman, I am presumed to not know anything about cars, and therefore, I am a potential victim for paying for things that aren't absolutely necessary. Unfortunately I never took "Know Your Auto" in high school and am perpetuating the stereotype that women do not know cars. In addition, I am perpetuating the stereotype that women do not listen to men because I did not always heed the advice to bring a male escort to the shop. Instead, before bringing the car in, I would ask a friend to give me a crash course (dummies' version) of what might have caused the vehicle to make funny noises, produce funny smells, or suddenly die in the middle of the intersection at Glen and East Ann Streets on the way to school in campus rush hour traffic. So, at the shop I could drop all these key words like, "alternator" and "head gasket" in order to pretend that I knew what was going on. And then I would make saucy demands like, "I need to inspect the defective parts after they've been replaced. Got it?"
Of course, there's always a fear that I was being hustled. As anyone, I cringe at the thought of a mechanic potentially taking advantage of my cluelessness. There's always a residue of distrust in my heart when interacting with them, especially the one dude with a perpetual smirk--I'm sure it's not intentional, it's just how God created his face, not his fault.
It's in these moments that I know exactly how many of my patients feel when I talk with them. As dumbfounded as I am when hearing about the dysfunctions of my car, I can only imagine what my patients are feeling as I attempt to explain the sequelae of periodontitis, the rationale in selecting an implant-and-crown versus a root canal-core-and-crown and vice-versa, or the anesthesia options for tori removal in preparing for a removable partial denture. (Eh?!...)
To put myself in my patient's shoes is to connect with them, have empathy for them, and to try my best to learn how to better communicate with them.
That is what Christ did for us. Jesus' ministry is effective because he walked in our shoes, lived on earth, experienced human emotions and bodily functions, as well as endured our temptations and sufferings to the greatest degree.
I hope to remember this example in my daily interactions with the people I have been called to serve and help heal.