Someone else’s shoes don’t make the road easier

I heard about a so-called reality television show that used to be popular, one where the wives in two families traded places with each other. Wife 1 from Family 1 switched with Wife 2 of Family 2, and then some genius follows them all around with cameras to see what happened. Can you say “train wreck”? I’ve never been a big fan of those kinds of shows (or reality television in general), and I’m not even sure if it’s on anymore. But I remember hearing about it and thinking that in concept it might be nice.

I mean, getting the chance to live someone else’s life sounds appealing some days. Let’s face it. Life is tough and hard and difficult, and it feels like others have life so much more figured out than I do. So it makes sense to want to trade places with someone else, to get a chance to live in someone else’s shoes.

But is it really nice? Does it really ever turn out the way you expect? I never watched those shows, but I would be curious to know if any of those people walked away from an episode wanting to stay switched.

stairs-man-person-walkingToday’s verses are Galatians 6:4-5.

Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

I don’t know what your life really looks like. I know what it looks like on the outside, but appearances can be deceiving. You could be the most disorganized, chaotic, crazy-brained person on the planet and still give the impression that you have it all together when you’re in front of someone else. Likewise, you could look like a nutcase but have your mental ducks all in a row.

You can’t tell just by looking at someone. Sometimes you can’t even tell just by listening to them. But I guarantee that if you got the opportunity to switch places with them, you wouldn’t want to stay long.

The point is, we’re all broken. Nobody has it all together. Some people are just better at faking it, convincing people around them that they know what they’re doing. So when you catch yourself wishing you could change your life or trade places with someone else, remember that things aren’t always what they seem.

Don’t compare yourself to other people. That goes for material wealth as well as spiritual growth too. Just because someone comes off as incredibly mature spiritually doesn’t mean that you want their level of faith. I mean, it’s great if you want to have strong, unshakable faith, but that’s not something you get by snapping your fingers. Generally, you’ve got to go through a lot of pain and disappointment and sadness to be able to develop a faith that’s strong. And it’s great to want that and it’s totally worth it, but don’t deceive yourself into thinking that growing a deep faith happens easily or overnight.

So stay put. Don’t wish for someone else’s shoes. Get comfy in your own. No, your life isn’t perfect. You have challenges you’ll face and hard decisions to make, but you aren’t in your life by accident. God’s got a plan, and He’s working it out a day at a time, even (and maybe especially) when it doesn’t feel like He is.

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Someone who has walked in your shoes understands how you feel

I’m planning a trip to England. I will be crossing the pond in May to visit my best friend and see some sights. I’ve been once before in summer 2013, and while that trip was a riot, I’m more excited for this return trip.

Why? Because I’ve experienced London already. I know what it’s like to ride the tube and to look the “wrong” direction for oncoming traffic. I know that the first floor of the British Museum is really all that’s there worth seeing and that the Museum of London is better overall. A lot of the peculiar little quirks of British culture won’t be such a shock this time around.

But what’s interesting is explaining it to my dad, who is coming with me. You can’t really explain London or any of the surrounding areas until you’ve actually been there. It’s one thing to talk about it. It’s something else to visit. That’s what I learned the last time I was there. It was something my best friend could describe, but I couldn’t really understand it until I’d lived it.

in-mums-shoesToday’s verses are Hebrews 2:17-18.

Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

Life is hard sometimes. Everybody knows that. But there’s something really comforting in talking to someone who’s walked a mile in your shoes.

If you’ve lost someone you love, friends can tell you they understand, but they don’t really. If they haven’t experienced the same loss you have, they can’t. It’s like someone with a full-time, paying job with benefits trying to console a part-time, minimum wage earner that rising grocery costs are a part of life. They mean well, certainly, but they can’t actually comprehend the terror of an empty cupboard and a failing bank balance.

Having a friend in your life who has been where you’ve been, who’s walked where you walked and felt the same hurt you have is priceless. If you can talk about how you’re feeling and your friend truly does understand the same emotions, there’s comfort you can’t really quantify. Especially if that friend experienced the same hurts you have and they’ve come out shining on the other side. You walk away from the conversation with hope. If they survived, so might I.

You realize that Jesus went through the same struggles we have, right? Maybe not specifically. I mean, there’s no evidence in Scripture that Jesus was ever laid off, but He most certainly struggled to make a living. He wasn’t a property owner, and He wasn’t always sure where His next meal would come from. Maybe the circumstances in His life are different from yours, but I guarantee He experienced the same emotions you have.

That’s why He came. Jesus chose to become human so that He could be made like us in every way, suffer in every way, struggle in every way, so He could understand. So that He could bridge the chasm between us and God the Father.

When someone knows what you’ve been through, they can speak for you. They can explain how it feels to stand where you stand, to live how you live, what the world looks like from your eyes. They can speak to it because they’ve lived it too, and that’s what Jesus does for us.

Jesus experienced fear and loss. He knew what betrayal felt like. He knew what failure felt like. He knew what it was like to lose friends and family–and to have friends and family turn their backs on Him. Everything we struggle with on a daily basis, Jesus experienced Himself. Maybe the circumstances weren’t identical, but the emotions were.

And you know what? He came out shining on the other side. He lived through all of that pain and abandonment and hurt and frustration and didn’t once turn against God. He still lived a life that was pleasing to the Lord, and because He did it, so can we. And when we struggle, we can turn to Him and ask for help.

When you’re on the edge of making a really stupid decision, ask Jesus for help. Tell Him about what you’re going through. He’s listening, and He’s been there. He had the strength not to go down the road to stupid, regardless of how much He was hurting, and He’s still there to help us make the wise choice too.

Jesus experienced life before we did, and He survived. He actually did more than survive. He thrived. And we can too. We just have to be willing to talk to Him about it and ask Him for help.