There’s an old, but very practical saying, “until you walk in someone else’s shoes, maybe just maybe, you shouldn’t judge them, lest the shoe be on the other foot.”
While we may not be able to know or even understand what other people have experienced in their lives, we can try and treat people as if we do.
I remember years ago the only job I could find at the time was at McDonald’s. Not the best place to earn enough for rent and bills, but it helped. I had one regular customer who was the crabbiest, most cross and grumpy person you’d ever meet. I dreaded getting stuck taking his order. And he came in every day.
I remember one night thinking about that day, it had been a lousy day, and yeah, I had been the one to take his order again. I remember uttering a general, “please don’t make me have to serve him anymore Lord” kind of flippant prayer. But then something happened. I remembered the saying about walking in others’ shoes.
I started thinking, ok; life stunk for me at that point, so was I exactly miss rosy sunshine myself? I doubt it. But maybe there was a reason why this man was such a grump. I started thinking of possible reasons why. It didn’t really matter that I didn’t know, but that just because he was crabby, didn’t mean I should respond in kind.
The next morning when he came in, I was determined to be as polite as I could be. And I was. It wasn’t easy at first, and it made very little difference the first day. But the next day, he came in, still looking sour, and stood in the line before my register. I was polite, and smiled, and treated him with respect. Again, his mood didn’t drastically change, but he wasn’t quite so crabby.
After a few more days and weeks, I noticed whenever he’d come in, he was walking a little straighter, and didn’t seem so weighed down. He started smiling. He said thank you. He was turning into a decent person whom I enjoyed waiting on. Then one day, he told me his wife of over 50 years had passed away after a long illness and it had about destroyed him. He had been carrying a lot of guilt and anger which had showed. It touched my heart and made me look at people differently after that.
I’m far from perfect in my reactions to people, I still respond in kind too often, with sarcasm or anger, but I have found that a smile or a little encouragement does as much for strangers as it does for friends who are going through a tough time.
Next time you notice someone who seems weighed down, whether a stranger or someone you know, start with a smile and maybe a kind word. You’d be surprised at how it could affect them or how much even just a little kindness can help.
In casting a little bit of bread here and there has come back to me and at times when I really needed a lift. Simple kindness is often returned in bigger blessings.
Have a blessed Monday and week everyone!