You can’t walk in shoes that aren’t yours

305“Get over it. People are so paranoid. People take everything personally. Get the chip off your shoulder. Stop being so paranoid.”

Ever had any of those thoughts go through your mind? If you’re like me, you’ve had them go through your mind a lot this past year. It’s so easy to look at someone who says they are hurt or offended and think, “Oh come on!”

It’s easy to think that until… well until you’re the one who is offended.

I remember a few years ago I was having a discussion with my friend Ashley. I am white, and Ashley is black, and we often have insightful conversations about race. During this particular conversation, I mentioned something about maybe some black people are just paranoid about racism. Then she said this: “You’ve never been black. Unless you’ve been black and walked into a store and gotten the stare-down, you don’t know what it’s like. You never will. Because you’ve never been black.”

Touché, my friend. Touché.

All over Facebook I see people, especially Christians, posting about how they are so sick and tired of people taking things personally or getting offended, and yet Christians seem to be the most offended people of all.

But really, we can’t look at someone and tell them they can’t feel how they feel. Are there people who ARE paranoid and over-the-top? Of course. But sometimes, what if people really are hurt? Who are we to pretend that we can walk in the shoes of someone who is something so completely different than we are?

I stopped dismissing people’s feelings on being a certain religion, race, etc., when I realized I had my own “chip” on my shoulder – being single in the church. It’s so frustrating because no one understands, unless they are a fellow single.

When I discuss my issues with my married friends in the church, they don’t understand, and sometimes the things they say are hurtful. They think singles want a group all their own to meet potential mates. Not at all. And it extends beyond having a specific group for singles. It’s the fact that no matter how hard I’ve tried, I’ve not been fully embraced by any church I’ve attended as an adult, and I do think it’s because I’m single.

Before you react. Before you judge. Before you comment… are you a single 30-something who has attended all the churches I’ve attended?

About a year ago a local homeless shelter held a fundraiser where you could spend a night as a homeless person. I thought it was a great idea! It raised a lot of money and gave people a small taste of what it was like to be homeless. However, I volunteer with the homeless, and they didn’t think it was such a great idea at all.

“It’s insulting,” one of the homeless men told me. “This isn’t what it’s like. We don’t have tents. We don’t have hot water. We don’t have an indoor bathroom to use in the middle of the night.”

I felt like my homeless friend was overreacting at first, but then I applied my friend Ashley’s words to the situation: I’ve never been homeless. I can’t claim to know what it’s like or what would upset me.

When it comes to walking on eggshells because we’re afraid we’re going to offend someone or not use the politically correct term, I absolutely believe that has gotten out of hand. But what I’m saying is….

If you’re not black, don’t pretend you know what it’s like to walk into an upscale store and get stared at.

If you’re not Christian, don’t pretend to know what it’s like to watch your country take your Savior out of everything.

I could go on and on with many more examples.

You can’t walk in shoes that aren’t yours, but you can have the compassion of Christ when someone tells you that their particular pair of “shoes” cause them pain. Paul actually tells us to take on that pain anyway:

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2

Be kind. Be compassionate. If we all attempted to understand each other a little better, the world would be a better place.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other,
just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:32

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved,
put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Colossians 3:12

“Do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor,
and let none of you device evil against another in your heart.”
Zechariah 7:10

 

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