Several weeks ago I was on the hunt to find that perfect pair of shoes at a reasonable price for the holidays. After trying on several different pairs I thought I had finally found the perfect ones. I slipped them on, stood up, took a few steps and after wobbling a bit from the very high heel I looked at the associate and said "I can't even walk in these" she chuckled and proudly responded by saying "I could walk a mile in those shoes!" Of course she was twenty-something.
I thought as I left without any shoes that day how I really liked the way those shoes looked, but the fit just wasn't quite right and how there was something so comforting about slipping back into my shoes, no matter how worn or scuffed they may have been. They were my good ole sturdy stand by's that I had put many miles on. Those shoes had walked me through a lot of pain. They may not had been new and glamorous, but they were warm and familiar. They had walked me through hospitals, doctors offices, and even down the halls of Hospice to say good bye.
At times many of us may wonder what it would be like to walk in someone else's shoes, if only for a day. I think we have the capability of doing that to a degree when we walk along side of our brothers and sisters in Christ encouraging, praying and loving them through their pain. Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. There is no greater way to walk in someone else's shoes than to be able to understand and help them through their pain. At my age I don't meet many widows, but when I do there is a level that we immediately connect on. I know they get it! They understand that sorrow in my heart like no one else can.
Metaphorically speaking, when we walk in someone else's shoes it should always be to help them and never to judge them. Don't waste the chance to help someone out of the pit by thinking you could do things better or different, but instead just embrace them and love them unconditionally. Jesus commands in John 13:34 "Love one another as I have loved you." Simply love them through their pain just as Christ does for you.
It is like God is preparing our hearts through the trials to be able to walk in any shoes and to see others just as He does. Sometimes our shoes can become too comfortable and we get so caught up in our problems causing us to miss that unique opportunity to reach out, befriend, and help someone else. Yes, you can actually use your struggles and pain to help others and in that process heal yourself. Often you will hear people refer to life as a journey. Our shoes should be solid, stable, and have a thick enough sole to endure miles of what could be a very long and painful journey. That's the strength God provides us. He is our stability, the Healer of our hearts and soul, and He walks beside us every step of the way.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2
So the next time you put on your favorite shoes, think about someone else--a friend, neighbor or family member-- that is struggling this season. Step out of those shoes and go walk with them in theirs. You may be just the person God has chosen to walk them right out of the darkness into His Light.