“First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Atticus Finch, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
I imagine if I were to count all the shoes I own, it would pale in comparison to my husband’s. He has shoes from 25 years ago. He has shoes that will carry him into the woods; allow him to stand on concrete for a number of hours; work out at the gym, climb rough terrain; ride a horse; walk in the water and so much more. The point is he has a shoe that fits every situation in his life.
Our shoes get dirty, they need attention, they need repair and they often need to be tossed and replaced. Often they get kicked off when we enter our homes. They get shoved into a corner and beaten up. Sometimes the dog will get a hold of one and that’s the end of that. We need our shoes to protect us from the rocks in the road; inclement weather; from stubbing our toes. Does all of this sound remotely familiar?
We’re a lot like shoes, aren’t we? We go through life needing attention from day one. We require love and nurturing. It’s part of being a human being. When it’s lacking, that’s the first scuff we receive. When we receive negative comments from someone, our ego suffers and we begin to need repair. Depression can take hold and there comes another scrape to our leather. If we’re bullied, we’re getting kicked by our peers and shoved into a corner. More depression. When our love is unrequited, we receive another bump. When we lose our jobs or suffer financial loss, it’s like a giant chunk has been carved out of us. When we suffer the loss of a loved one, we might feel we can take no more and give up.
Thinking about it even further, our shoes take a beating as we wear them. The same is often true of our relationships. True love allows us to walk in someone else’s shoes and understand where they’re coming from. When we don’t want to bother with repair, we often give up and throw the shoes away in deference to another pair. This is where the rub lies. We can’t just toss our relationships aside. We need to work at them in order to repair them.
There is One who knew what it was like to walk in our shoes. Jesus didn’t hesitate to take on human form and experience life as we know it. He is empathetic, sympathetic, compassionate – all emotions that we find hard to emote, because we’ve become so concerned about ourselves. Many of us focus on what we want and what we need, that we forget the needs of others. We all have problems – some more than others – but isn’t it nice to have someone to share those troubles with – someone who understands and has been there themselves?
When things are bad and we can’t seem to find answers for our problems, we can turn to our Savior, God and be assured that He knows what we’re feeling. In the meantime, we should be on guard to not judge others if we haven’t experienced their pain. We don’t know what they’re suffering, but we can take the time to sit with them – to say “I care,” or “Can I help?”
There are many people who need to have a compassionate friend. Many of them don’t own a pair of shoes. Many may not want to share their situation. Be their friend anyway.