Living on Purpose: Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes

Dr. William Holland

Posted April 25, 2022

By Dr. William Holland

It’s easy to mock and be critical, and unfortunately our human nature loves to judge unfairly and display negative thoughts about others. If we could only remember that many people are going through some type of painful trial which usually explains why they seem peculiar. I often counsel with those who are struggling with personal problems and it changes our perspective when we know the bigger picture. As Christians, we are called to be a light that represents God’s nature and this includes forbearance, understanding, and compassion. This is so that everyone can see Christ and hopefully will inspire them to learn more about who He is. When we act ugly and rude, we are actually turning others away from the message of grace and love that we proclaim is what the lost world desperately needs. Whether you’ve noticed or not, those around us are carefully observing us which is having a direct impact on what they think about God and who we are. Every day we have opportunities to do what Jesus would do.

If we knew what is going on behind the scenes in the lives of those all around us, it would allow us to realize they do not deserve our harsh speculations and criticisms. I published a book a few years ago called “A lifestyle of worship – Living in the Awareness of God’s Presence” that focuses on developing spiritual sensitivity and how this discernment can drastically change the way we think and see life. I’m convinced we will not grow in our concern for others until we can see them the way God sees them.  When I’m focused on His presence and trying to do His will, I am more humble and understanding. However, when I’m distant from Him and allow arrogance to rise up, I gravitate toward being indifferent and cold-hearted. Rick Warren is quoted, “God’s mercy to us is the motivation for showing mercy to others. Remember, you will never be asked to forgive someone else more than God has forgiven you.”

I recently learned about an 8-year-old boy that experienced a horrifying tragedy. His mother had agreed to take care of a friends dog for a few days. The dog did not have a history of aggression and she did not sense any danger to bring it into her home. One day the little boy was out in the yard with the dog and suddenly out of nowhere the animal violently attacked him. The mother heard the cries and ran to stop the attack, but not before the dog had bit off the boys ears and caused very serious wounds to his head and face. It was believed that if the mother had not arrived when she did, the dog would have killed him. I watched an interview with the little fellow after the wounds had healed and he had such a gentle and kind personality. Those few seconds changed his life forever.

He is a smart and witty child and is surprisingly upbeat in spite of the devastating damage that he deals with on a daily basis. Where his ears had been are now just small holes on the sides of his head. The muscles in his face are permanently damaged and twisted which causes him to talk out of the side of his mouth. His eye socket was reconstructed and he is fortunate they were able to save his sight. As I listened in amazement of his courage at such a young age I was deeply moved and felt a tear running down my cheek. What a traumatic ordeal this innocent young man has gone through. He went on to say that he begged his mom to let him return to school and how the other kids will gather around him and stare at him like he is a circus attraction. He overhears them saying he’s scary looking and all that. I know kids are cruel and remember when I was growing up I watched bullies torture other children they considered were strange or whatever. I think about what this child has gone through and not only having to live with the outward consequences, but also the emotional agony from the insults and rejection. I Peter 3:8 reminds us to be sympathetic, to love one another, to be compassionate and humble, and this helps us to consider what it would be like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

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