All of us have family, friends, and casual acquaintances who either mean a lot to us or we wish they would disappear. Those people, we love or like, are easier to celebrate. We attend birthday parties, graduations, marriage ceremonies, or lavish gifts on a new baby. Sometimes, these activities are inconvenient, but we go to them.
Then, throughout our histories together the hard times come to everyone including ourselves. What happens when a marriage fails? Do we choose one partner over the other instead of walking in the shoes of both? What do we say to the person whose child died, or their partner? Often we distance ourselves because we don’t know what to say. And yet, a hug is all that’s needed. There are no adequate words of comfort in divorce or death. After the shock has worn off and life must continue as normally as possible, the demand to send a card, invite them for a meal, coffee, or even a trip together is when we begin to understand their pain. Perhaps we’ve experienced the same thing. We can then, say, “I know some of what you feel.”
Sometimes the people we know lose their glow. They hurt us in some way. It can be anything – promise not kept, lies told about us, we disagree with their point of view, they abuse us emotionally or physically, and so on. Do we look into their life and ask them why, or do we ditch them and ask them not to be part of our future? That might be necessary. But on the other hand, do we need to forgive the harmful deed and try to heal the relationship? I can’t answer that question for anyone. Every case is different, and each of us must struggle with those issues individually.
Sometimes it means sacrifice of our time, money, and emotions until they’re back on their feet. Years may go by. We get blisters on our feet, we grow weary of the situation, and we ask, when is it enough? And yet as one human to another, I believe we’re often called to walk in another’s shoes.