RELIGIOUS COLUMN: Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes | Columnists
It’s easy to scoff and be critical, and unfortunately, our human nature likes to judge unfairly and display negative thoughts about others. If only we could remember that many people go through some kind of painful ordeal that usually explains why they seem strange. I often counsel those struggling with personal issues and it changes our perspective when we know the bigger picture. As Christians we are called to be a light that represents the nature of God and that includes patience, understanding and compassion. This is so everyone can see Christ and hopefully inspire them to learn more about who he is. When we act ugly and gross, we are actually distracting others from the message of grace and love that we claim is what the lost world desperately needs. Whether you have noticed it or not, those around us are watching us closely, which has a direct impact on how they feel about God and who we are. Every day we have opportunities to do what Jesus would do.
If we knew what goes on behind the scenes in the lives of those around us, it would make us realize that they don’t deserve our speculation and harsh criticism. I published a book a few years ago called “A Lifestyle of Worship – Living in the Awareness of God’s Presence” which focuses on developing spiritual sensitivity and how this discernment can radically change the way we to think and see life. I am convinced that we will not grow in our concern for others until we can see them as God sees them. When I focus on his presence and try to do his will, I am more humble and understanding. However, when I am away from him and allow arrogance to rise, I am drawn to indifference and a cold heart. Rick Warren is quoted: “God’s mercy toward us is the motivation to show mercy toward others. Remember that you will never be asked to forgive someone else more than God has forgiven you.
I recently heard of an 8 year old boy who experienced a horrible tragedy. His mother had agreed to look after a friend’s dog for a few days. The dog had no history of aggression and she felt no danger in bringing him into her home. One day, the little boy was in the yard with the dog and suddenly, out of nowhere, the animal violently attacked him. The mother heard the screams and ran to stop the attack, but not before the dog had bitten the boy’s ears and caused very serious injuries to his head and face. It was believed that if the mother had not arrived when she arrived, the dog would have killed her. I watched an interview with the little guy after the injuries healed and he had such a sweet and kind personality. Those few seconds changed his life forever.
He’s a smart, witty kid and is surprisingly optimistic despite the devastating damage he takes on a daily basis. Where his ears used to be, there are now only small holes on the sides of his head. The muscles in his face are permanently damaged and twisted, causing him to talk out the side of his mouth. His eye socket has been reconstructed and he’s lucky they were able to save his sight. Listening in amazement to his courage at such a young age, I was deeply moved and felt a tear roll down my cheek. What a traumatic ordeal this innocent young man went through. He went on to say that he begged his mother to let him go back to school and the other kids would gather around him and look at him like he was a circus attraction. He hears them saying he’s scary and all that. I know kids are cruel and remember when I was growing up I watched bullies torturing other kids they considered weird or whatever. I think about what this child has been through and not only living with the outward consequences, but also the emotional agony of insults and rejection. I Peter 3:8 reminds us to be kind, to love one another, to be compassionate and humble, and it helps us to think about what it would be like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. ‘other.
Billy Holland is a licensed and ordained minister. He is also a teacher, writer and singer. To contact Holland, visit billyhollandministries.com.