Have you walked in their shoes?
We were at the Social Security building a couple of weeks ago, and as we stood in line waiting to get in, a man came and joined us. My wife spoke to him as he was closer to her, and he politely responded. He was here from a city down south and said he was not used to the cold or the rain we had all the time. He met a woman from this area and they married several years before, and after a time she really wanted to move back to this area. So they left the warm south and moved here.
He hadn’t worn a jacket, thinking that he could get into the building and wait inside. We told him that we would save his place in line if he wanted to go back to his car to get his jacket. When he came back he joined us again, and talked for a while longer before we went into the building.
During that time he made some rather interesting comments about some things that had happened to him and how he responded to them. The man was dressed well, clean, educated, and a good conversationalist. The time came for us to go into the building and get checked in to take care of our business. He was in line after us and we parted ways from then on.
At dinner that evening, Guyla and I were talking about what had happened that day, and remembered some of what he had said. It didn’t fit with what we saw in him as a person. Her comment was the title of this essay. I wonder what happened to him to say what he said. I guess you would have to walk in his shoes to know.
How often do we judge people based on appearance, speech, or any number of things that we see or hear but have no idea of what caused them to be like they are?
I recently met a man over at the SHAG facility where several of our ladies reside. He sits in the lobby quite often, by himself, and is, according to several of the residents, not the friendliest of people.
Every Wednesday he waits for Guyla as she delivers the bread and things that we get from Panera. She first met him when he saw her with what are known as “bear claws”. So every week, if they are available, she sets aside two bear claws for him.
Recently, I was asked to get some pictures for the Outreach pages for our website, so one day I went with her. The fellow was waiting for her and she gave him the treats. He saw my camera and made a comment about it. We struck up a conversation. The “grouch” was really just a lonely older man that was different from others. Was he a grouch? Not really, he just had had things happen to him that caused him not to be willing to expose the real person. He needed a friend. Someone he could be real with.
Jesus talks about carrying the load for others in Matt 5: 41 -47.
41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
Be slow to judge those you meet. Take time to find out what they experienced and why they are like they are. You might be surprised to find they are not what they seem to be on the outside.