This past week a friend came over to spend some time together. The gorgeous weather suggested that it would be a great day for a walk. Upon my mentioning that thought she apologized that the shoes that she had chosen to wear out that day were not those that would be conducive to walking. In the midst of us both soaking in the disappointment of the missed opportunity, she interrupted with an impromptu solution-“on second thought, I could just walk barefoot.”
I repeated her words, a question as much as a statement clarifying that I had heard her correctly “you could just walk barefoot?” “Sure,” she replied in a nonchalant way. “O…kay….” I responded hesitantly and with a “if you think you’ll be okay” tone to my voice.
As the time approached, it didn’t seem right, with the walk being at my suggestion, that she be the only one who walked barefoot. I decided that if she was willing to walk barefoot beside me then I should go ahead and walk barefoot too. And so we began down the road, barefoot, walking side by side. It wasn’t long before we both realized that this perhaps had not been the greatest idea. Although indeed a road, what we walked upon was far from smooth asphalt. Rough patches were the rule and not the exception, and many tiny rocks that we encountered along the way that we stepped on sent shooting pains through what, we discovered, is one of the most sensitive places on your whole person! This barefoot walk became a none-to-pleasant task of tenacity. What we discovered by the end was that walking barefoot was difficult, unpleasant and painful…our only solace was that we had been walking barefoot together.
As Believers we are called to walk beside one another. We too have opportunities to walk beside those who find themselves walkin’ barefoot. Through no fault of their own, they find themselves lacking their usual comforts, securities and safety nets. Be it a result of sudden illness, others poor choices, horrendous loss, or simply the consequences of living in a fallen world, they find that there is little to no cushion between them and the hard road they are forced to walk.
There was a time when I thought that I could be most helpful to people in these situations by quoting scripture at them. After all how much better could you love someone than by offering them truth? There was a time when I thought that I could be most helpful to people who were hurting by trying to make them laugh and forget about their problems. Doesn’t Proverbs 17:22 tell us that a joyful heart is good medicine? There were many times when I thought it was my job to offer solutions, answers and ideas to help fix whatever the problem seemed to be.
Over time, growth and experience however I have learned that the best thing to do for someone who is in the midst of mourning…is to be willing to mourn with them. Many times there are no words, no answers and no solution to be had. Many things happen that shouldn’t and that don’t make sense. Sometimes life just isn’t fair.
Even children of God need time to grieve and mourn. While mourning, they need someone to hold their hand, cry with them and love them unconditionally. In these times of walking barefoot upon the rocky road of life, often what others need is just to have someone who is willing to walk barefoot beside them.
Father, help me to be willing to walk barefoot beside those who walk barefoot on this journey. Help me to be sensitive to those who mourn, and to be willing to mourn with them.