Major shoutout to my sister who, in the midst of studying for her physical therapy qualification exam, has been my biggest dissertation encourager. We celebrate the little victories and send each other lots of gifs (no, people who don’t know what gifs are, that’s not a typo). Also, shoutout to Evie for some stellar writing advice and some cat-based encouragement to write write write.
I’ve heard it said, on occasion, that when you’re angry with someone or don’t understand why they’re acting in a particular way you should walk a mile in their shoes. Right? It’s a pretty well known saying. Pretty sure almost all you readers will have heard it. Pretty sure almost all Americans will have heard it. And I think most would agree that it’s very sage advice, you know, for general good things. Yet here we are. No walking. Ruined shoes.
A friend of mine recently wrote, in response to events in the US, “Stop focusing on who’s right and start righting what’s wrong.” I heartily agree. In doing some other reading, I came across a reference to the Westminster Larger Catechism, passed by the Church of Scotland in 1648. And, you may think, that pertains to racial injustice in the US today because…? Let me tell you. When going through the Ten Commandments, it not only asks the content of them, but also a variety of details about what they mean. The sixth commandment is Thou shalt not kill. Importantly, before asking what sins are prohibited by the commandment, it asks what duties are required by it (Q 135) and here is what it says:
The duties required in the sixth commandment are all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defence thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labour, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behaviour; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succouring the distressed and protecting and defending the innocent.
Like, I really don’t know what else to say. I had written a whole thing this week, but when I came across this it all seemed unnecessary. This is why black lives matter (too). We are to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).
So let’s go back to that old phrase. Walking a mile in another’s shoes. Many of us have lost that ability, if we ever truly had it. When we see the tattered shoes of another (because we rarely see the frightful state of our own) we have little inclination to step into them. Good thing I know someone who delights in mending our shoes.
My heart is sore. Facebook, that great well of loud opinions, has given me enough heartache to last for a while, and also shown me that many others have spoken much more eloquently than I. This post is inadequate, as am I in writing it. So I will finish with just a little prayer, in faith that prayer changes things.
God, help us be courageous enough to admit when we’re wrong. Help us be compassionate enough to do something to help. Teach us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with You. When we are tired of walking in our own lives, much less the lives of others, mend our shoes. And help us mend one another’s. You are the Great Mender and to you I entrust my heart and this world. Amen.