You Have No Idea

You Have No Idea


What does it mean to walk a mile in someone’s shoes? I’ve heard that phrase used all my life, but it’s one that still makes me stop and think each time I hear it used. “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” is a variation of the saying, “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” It is attributed to Native American tribes and from the 1895 poem by Mary T. Lathrap, Judge Softly, with its well-known closing line, Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.” I believe this simple phrase from a late 19th century poem can make all the difference in our modern lives and how we interact with people from day to day.

            This can be put in use in how we perceive the Jephthah account in Judges 11-12. We recently studied Jephthah in our Ministers of the Roundtable Series, and I have a confession to make. Before preparing for our study, all I knew about this particular judge was the rash vow found in Judges 11:29-38. I figured most of our study would be how yet again God used a no-good foolish person to accomplish great things through His own divine plan and providence. However, as I learned about Jephthah’s tragic upbringing, his humility in leading Gilead despite that upbringing, and his constant praising of God – the narrative I had of Jephthah quickly started to change. I had no idea what this man had gone through and thus was not in the place to look down upon his for a mistake that cost him dearly. Here was a man who was born in a dysfunctional family, a man who was ran out of his hometown, a man who made a grave mistake that he felt the consequences of for the rest of his life.  Here was a man that I needed to try walking a mile in his sandals for a moment before I judged him for being rash and senseless. I simply have no idea what it was like to be Jephthah, to be in his position of sole military leader, to put my own life out on the line for a people that used to hate me, and in the heat of all this responsibility and stress – to pray to God and make a vow of sacrifice that is by all means well intended. Maybe I should think twice before I count Jephthah out for what he did. Is it still tragic and wrong, yes. But can I sympathize and be gracious to someone who isn’t perfect, also yes.

            You see, walking a mile in someone’s shoes before you judge them is so key in understanding their decisions and mistakes that even God saw the wisdom in doing just that. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16. God wanted to walk a mile in our shoes to better understand our weaknesses and to provide to all men the perfect example of righteousness on Earth. One of the most endearing traits of my Savior was that He was more than willing to walk a mile in my shoes to better be there for me now when I struggle.

            So, the next time you’re tempted to lose your patience with someone for not having something done when you think it should be, try to put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Maybe you have no idea what else in on their plate at the moment. The next time you see a fault or failure in someone and you’re ready to count them out or punish them, try to put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Maybe you have no idea what they’re going through at the moment. And last but not least, the next time you see yourself struggling and making mistakes, remember, Christ walked a mile in YOUR shoes and is there to help in any way. He has a clear idea on what you need to be whole again!