Les and I were talking last night as we were attempting to get Gabriel to fall asleep. I asked Les a question and he was avoiding the answer, so I inquired, “Why don’t you want to imagine what it would be like to step into someone else’s shoes?”
With a little smirk on his face, “Because I like my own shoes. They may be old with holes in them. They might be stinky. They may not be perfect – but they’re my shoes. It’s my stink. I’ve worn them in and they’re comfy. If someone else put on my shoes they’d be uncomfortable for them, but to me…they’re comfy.”
My Les. My Les. Poor guy…I’ve pulled him out of his comfort zone countless times in our marriage.
It got me thinking though. It makes sense and I bet most people feel the same way.
I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that way though. Do you know how many times I’ve told Les, “I simply don’t feel like I belong anywhere.” I have a vivid memory of Kindergarten where we were told to color a picture of an Easter Bunny and to do our very best coloring. I’m one who likes to obey, I always have been. (Doesn’t mean I don’t mess up though. It also doesn’t mean that I’m unable to do my own thing – because, let’s face it, there’s not much about me that follows the crowd.) I sat there coloring and coloring and coloring. At some point later, my teacher told us that the other teachers came into the classroom and picked the top three best colored bunnies. I got 1st place! Since I got 1st place, I got to pick first from the three prizes. There was a chocolate bunny…that I really, really, really wanted, a box of chocolate covered cherries, and I don’t remember the third prize because it didn’t matter to me. I thought about it and as much as I wanted the chocolate bunny, I couldn’t pick it. It was more important to me to get the chocolate covered cherries for my mom. And that’s what I picked – the chocolate cherries.
This is me. It’s not something I can choose to turn off. Had I picked that bunny, I would have been forever disappointed in myself that I put myself before others. I assumed for a very long time that everyone was like this. You can imagine all the scenarios that have taught me otherwise.
Even after all the disappointment and hurt in my life, it has only strengthened my empathy for others. I can’t help but put myself in others’ shoes. I’ve felt the pain, disappointment, hurt, and struggle that they are experiencing. It’s painful! It’s debilitating! It’s all consuming. I can’t help but want to soothe them. Want to help them.
I guess there’s a part of me that still has hope that deep down everyone has the ability to put others before themselves. I still choose to believe, that given the opportunity, people will choose to help others in need.
By saying ‘no’ and by refusing, we forfeit our purpose. – Mother Gavrilia, The Ascetic of Love
A life not lived for others, is not a life. – Mother Teresa