Big Shoes To Fill
“Most important of all, love each other deeply, because love makes you willing to forgive many sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 ERV
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second most important command is this: ‘Love your neighbor the same as you love yourself.’ These two commands are the most important.” Mark 12:30-31 ERV
“Do for others what you want them to do for you.” Luke 6:31 ERV
Loving each other well is hard. And doing for others what you want them to do for you requires so much more than just asking, “What would I want in this scenario?”
We know exactly what we’d want. We know our own hopes, dreams, and fears. We know what touches our hearts. We’ve walked a lifetime in our own shoes.
But loving other people well requires a barefoot moment. I have to kick off the familiar and step out into the unknown so that I can walk around for a while in someone else’s shoes - to understand what it is they want, what they need, hope for, or feel and to love them right where they are.
Maybe the path to loving well is empathy-
Empathy. When I give my undivided attention to someone. I put away my own perspective. I look into their eyes and listen- really listen- without the intent of responding or judging what they are sharing.
Just be there and listen.
That’s when you get a glimpse of how they are feeling. How they see life. What they have been through. It’s being present. It’s receiving rather than pulling. It opens the door for better relationships and better human connection. It’s walking a mile in their shoes.
Now, before you think I’ve gone all new age on you let’s shift gears.
When I was a little girl I always tried to put my daddy’s big old work boots on and walk around in them. They were way too big for me. I barely had enough strength to pick them up with my skinny little legs. I remember kind of dragging my feet across the kitchen floor and being so proud that I could do it.
Later as a mom with kids of my own, I realized that kids will do and say whatever they hear and see. Sometimes we are unaware of our influence until your sweet little angel gets you in the check out line in the grocery and shouts that cuss word she has heard you say way too many times. Kids are always watching and listening. It’ll bring you right down to earth when you find out somebody's watching and patterning their lives against your own.
But it’s a picture.
“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,” 1 Peter 2:21 NASB
Loving God and loving other people well is hard, but Jesus is our example. If we follow in his steps and pattern our lives after His we can learn to do it. It may be like when I tried to walk in Daddy’s boots. You may have to stumble and drag your feet at first, you may never be able to fill his shoes on this side of heaven, but we can follow in his footsteps.
We can be present with people, walk a mile in their shoes, really listen, see…
and love them right where they are.