You’ve heard it said many times that unless someone has walked in your shoes, they can’t know how you feel. Those shoes fit differently on everyone, and we all walk through our lives in different shoes. As a young child we walk and run around in comfortable shoes, shoes that aren’t meant to last forever. As we grow we’re always getting new shoes to replace the ones we’ve outgrown.
When we’re grown, we end up wearing lots of shoes, in different styles and colors. We have different pairs for different lifestyles. The ones for the workplace are different than the ones for home. The ones for work are stiffer, and more confining, but look really good on us, because we have to look good for our co-workers. They don’t usually hurt our feet; we wouldn’t be able to wear them too long if they did. We have a few pairs for dressier occasions, and they always seem to hurt. We don’t wear them much because of it. Then we have other pairs of shoes for casual wear. They’re comfortable, and while they may not always be stylish, they feel good, and make us feel good.
Most new shoes hurt your feet in some way for a little while. Some are even so uncomfortable you want to rip them off and throw them away. These are the shoes you find yourself wearing when your loved one dies. You have no other choice but to wear them, because they’re the only ones you have at that time. They aren’t necessarily pretty. They hurt not only your feet, but your spirit. They pinch and rub your heels and squish your toes until they’re numb. Gradually they start to stretch out a bit and don’t seem to hurt quite as bad, because you don’t notice any more.
When I was wearing those shoes, I actually started getting used to the pain. I thought all new shoes were supposed to feel like that. Then I noticed I wasn’t walking as well when I wore them. I couldn’t walk as fast as I used to because the shoes were too heavy. My steps were tentative instead of strong; the shoes were holding me back. I couldn’t go where I needed to go.
One day the Lord took those shoes off my feet. He washed my poor tired and aching feet and replaced those ugly, painful shoes with beautiful new ones which were as comfortable as an old pair of squishy slippers. And I was able to walk better. Not immediately, because my feet still hurt, but without those ill-fitting shoes on, my feet were finally able to breathe and relax, and start to take me where I needed to go.
As with those uncomfortable, ill-fitting shoes, once they’re removed, walking and everyday living gets easier. It’s the same with grief. At first we can’t imagine ever feeling happy again. Ever feeling like smiling again. Ever feeling a world without sadness. We can’t imagine not missing our loved one every minute.
Then one day we actually go several hours without grieving. The next day it goes a bit longer, and so on. We begin to feel guilty because we feel that way. Aren’t we supposed to be sad? NO! We go on because our joy is in the Lord. Our loved one is there with Him. We should rejoice, and also know one day…..one day….we will be there as well!
“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5) It may seem to be a really long night, in really uncomfortable shoes, but you do get there, and the shoes you find yourself wearing on that morning are some of the most comfortable you’ve ever had.