So, we’ve all heard it said that we need to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I understand that the point is to remind us to empathize with the struggles that others are going through, but I have to admit. I’ve struggled with the idea of this.
As Christians we are called to approach life with an others-first outlook. Loving others well is one of Christ’s greatest messages after all. And, if I’m being totally honest, it’s a hard thing to do All. Of. The. Time. I mean, I do try my best, but when I’m tired, or stressed, or especially when I’m hungry things can go a little bit sideways. The walk-a-mile-in-another’s-shoes motto can be helpful to remember to put others first; but, when I hear this phrasing, I hear that I’m supposed to carry the other person’s burden for them, that in order to be Christ-like, I must do everything I can to carry their struggles, their burdens, their pain.
All. Of. It.
Taking care of everyone else’s everythings because somehow in my mind that meant that I
was being holy enough, Christ-like, a good wife, a good mom… who knows what I thought that meant!
Something about it just didn’t seem right, and I knew it deep in my core, but I just couldn’t put my finger on what bothered me. So, I kept putting on everyone else’s shoes because I thought it was what I was “supposed to do.”
Then one day, I heard the song “Comeback Story” by Kings of Leon. There’s a line in it that says, “I walked a mile in your shoes, And now I’m a mile away, And I’ve got your shoes.”
It hit me so hard! That was it! That was what bothered me about the walk-a-mile-in-another’s-shoes motto. Living life in that way. Dealing with everyone else’s everythings left me separated from them because I was living their life and not mine. Not only was I robbing them of their life experiences, I was denying mine even existed. Ouch! BIG OUCH!
I totally missed the meaning of the message this whole time. God has never asked me to wear anyone else’s shoes. If He did, He would have given me those shoes to wear. But He didn’t. He gave me mine. And for a reason. I have a purpose to walk out on this earth. If I wear someone else’s shoes, I’m trying to walk in their purpose for them. My purpose is to wear my own shoes.
Live my own purpose… while walking beside others- WITH them, not FOR them- for that mile or so of life’s journey. That's what it means! We are meant to walk together, side-by-side. Supporting, loving, encouraging, giving, nurturing, creating, planning, helping… maybe even helping to hold that burden momentarily, but not carrying it permanently – never permanently.
So, yes. Spend some time asking what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes. Remind yourself that everyone is dealing with something and maybe there’s a way we can help, but don’t take their shoes!
Keep your shoes on your feet.
Know who you are.
Know whose you are.
Spend time in silence, stillness, and solitude. Give yourself room to hear what God is asking of you. Allow yourself the space to walk side-by-side with those around you. We can never walk out someone’s journey for them, but we can find God’s love and joy, even in the struggles, if we walk our own journey, together.
Wishing you Love and Light!
To learn more about Leah, read her introductory blog here.