Different Shoes

Different Shoes

Often our world is all we know. Our world has been shaped by our experience—where we have been, who we have known, what we have done—as well as by our habits, standards, and aspirations. When we see a man sleeping in a doorway or a woman asking for help in a slurred voice, we compare their condition with our world. We may assume there is something fundamentally wrong with someone in such a state.

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.
—H. Jackson Brown, Jr

In truth, poverty puts people into a different world. The homeless person sleeping in the doorway may not have been able to rest the night before because he was guarding his few possessions. That woman may have an untreated medical condition that affects her speech.

Chelle Thompson writes, “Human beings seldom step outside of themselves to really grasp the needs and fears of others. We often project our own thoughts and beliefs upon strangers, and make judgments based upon how we think they ‘should’ be living their lives.”

Someone has suggested that to understand others, we should walk a mile in their shoes. But can I walk in the shoes of a single mother who is homeless, sick, battling an addiction to prescription drugs that she acquired in the hospital, and has had her children taken from her and placed in foster care? How can I possibly ever feel what she feels? I can’t walk in her shoes, but I can ask if she’d like to talk, to tell me her story, to tell me how it feels in her shoes. We may both benefit.

“I think we have to own the fears that we have of each other, and then, in some practical way, some daily way, figure out how to see people differently than the way we were brought up to.”—Alice Walker

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2 Comments

  1. Ademola
    December 3, 2015, 6:22 am   /  Reply

    hmm, inspirational and thoughful

  2. Brenda Castillo
    August 8, 2017, 8:32 am   /  Reply

    To walk in someone’s shoes is hard. They call it empathy. But in reality , its better to know the person , relate to them, listen to how they got there. Then pray and ask God to help you through His Word to help help them. Listening to someone who needs help will let you know if they are ready for help. Sometimes people get caught up in a certain way of life that they feel more comfortable staying there than taking a step of faith and trying to get help. I pray for these kind of persons. I was this kind of person many years ago. One day a homeless man told me Jesus loves me and that was the begining of a new life for me. Never stop telling people JESUS loves them. At the darkess moment in their lives they will remember those three words , JESUS LOVES YOU. They will make a difference in their lives. The Holy Spirit knows when to remind them. God bless you

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