I had a discussion today with someone who I happen to love very much. It wasn’t an easy discussion. It was actually full of pain for both of us. One comment made was that I, nor anyone else, has walked a mile in another’s shoes.
No I haven’t. And I can’t. I can not do that. Nor, can anyone else walk that proverbial mile, in my shoes.
If I walked a mile in your shoes they would no longer be your shoes. They would be mine. I may be traversing a path you had set upon but my feet will not travel it the same. I will step differently. I will tread heavier, or lighter, or skip when you plod, or slow down where you may sprint. Nor will my heart, my thoughts, and my reactions be identical to yours. And even if I walk with you, no matter how closely I walk with you I can not walk a mile and experience your mile.
There are people in my life who I love very much. And though I love them deeply and feel very close to them I don’t know their experiences like they know their experiences. And they don’t know mine. I hurt for what I perceive to be their pain. And I celebrate what I perceive to be their joys. But I bet I am not always right. Because I know moments of my own celebrations I have stood alone because others didn’t understand. And my deepest sobs were heard by no one but God Himself, because my pain was not felt by any one else.
I couldn’t ask another to walk in my shoes. I couldn’t. I think there are things that have happened in my life that I would never want another person to experience. I have lived through them, and know that I can, I would not want anyone else to take that chance. It was mine to face. And face it, I did.
I wouldn’t ask another to walk in my shoes. I wouldn’t! I believe there are joys in my life that I would not want to give away to another. They were mine to celebrate. And celebrate with joy and gratitude I have.
My sorrows and my joys were experienced by me in the way that I was intended to celebrate and suffer them. And even in the suffering, I learned there is joy. There is joy in surviving, conquering and smashing the pains. There is. That is part of my path. That I have discovered. What if someone else, in their willingness to take my miles for me, missed the steps or stepped wrongly when I walked it myself and I found my strength. My courage. And my abilities. What if in their generosity they walked my mile and tried to skip over and through the part that I dragged myself through to find my peace when I got to the end. When, at that mile’s end, I stood dirty, torn and battered. But in my heart I carried the hope that I found in that very hard mile.
I do, sometimes, wish I could take my brother’s shoes and put them upon my feet. My sister’s shoes. My parent’s shoes. My children’s shoes. My Husband’s shoes. My friend’s shoes. I wish I could walk in their shoes and experience for them the things I wish they did not have to experience. But I know, deep down, I would not be able to do it. Though I struggle with this, because it makes me feel like I have failed, failed you in your time of need. It is sometimes more painful than I can express. I suspect that any one of us has had this feeling, a helpless feeling of not knowing what to do so we resort to wishes. I wish I could take the pain for you! I wish I could get you through this! I wish I could be the one because I could do this for you! I wish…I wish it was different.
But I’m not meant to wear your shoes. Or walk your mile.
The hardest miles of my life may very well be the miles I can’t walk for you. The miles I walk that don’t include you. The miles that pass beneath my life that you have walked out of. If you would let me, I can walk by you. I can walk with you. I can walk to you.
In all truth I have not failed by not being able to walk in your shoes.
I fail, if I can not walk in mine.