You may recall that some time ago I wrote a story about a boy named Luke that died in a tornado. I followed that with an explanation of why I wrote the story and why I dealt with Luke’s fate the way that I did.
The central premise of both posts was a discussion of faith. The idea of fate being a cruel master is one of my faith weaknesses. It is the reason I presented Luke with a fate of non-awareness of his death. It absolves my pain.
Today I woke up to the story of a six year old boy that died in the crash of a Southwest Airlines plane. He wasn’t in the plane. He was riding in a car that fate put in the path of the airplane.
As I sat reading the newspaper and then hearing the account of the incident on television, sadness came over me. It is, for me, unavoidable in these cases. Faith or no faith these things are inexplicable and sad, and it can crawl up inside you and occupy your soul, virtually filling it corner to corner with sadness.
The faith required by the parents of this ill fated child will exceed the test load of many of us. It may exceed theirs. I pray for them, and I pray they will someday find peace through faith.
This opens up a thought process for me that is an old friend. I have spent more time thinking about this concept than is probably rational. That is why I call it an old friend.
We know this concept by an old adage. ‘Never judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes’.
It is an old phrase. Some might find it so old and worn that it seems silly and out of date.
I think it is sterling silver advice.
We all think we know best for our friends and family. We think we know best for practically anybody in any situation. We criticize and we say it would be different for them if they would only listen to me.
So how do we separate helpful advice from the not so helpful? It’s a good question and I’m hoping you can help me with the question.
The media talking heads pontificate about the mistakes of our government leaders. They are journalists, yet somehow know exactly how to be the best president or defense secretary the country has ever had.
All around us are negative assessments of other people’s performance; sometimes we hear these assessments about our own performance from the loved ones around us.
We all know how to fix everyone else, yet struggle with our own problems, turning outside of ourselves for the answers, despite the fact that we are the ones walking our own personal mile in our own shoes.
I’m working my way toward a central point that if we have not had the experience they are going through, it might be better to just give them a hug and hold their hand while they work to find their truth in the matter.
An old friend came by to visit me yesterday. We share a baseball past. He pitched for Texas Tech and is a par golfer; a fine athlete. He brought me a Christmas present. It was an incredible present, a photo book that contained photos of the pre-game and every inning of last years World Series Game 4. He took all of the photos himself from his amazing front row seat. He then hand labeled each photo for me.
My friend is important in this post because he is in remission from cancer. His was a form of bone cancer that claims almost 100% of its hosts. He waged the fiercest and bravest struggle you can imagine. On second thought, I rescind that statement, because I think none of us can really imagine the degree of his struggle and his triumph.
His eyes sparkle and he lives with intensity. When he left yesterday after bringing me such a wonderful gift, he hugged me and told me that I was special. I had to very quickly compose myself, awkwardly I might add. I am not so special, but I believe he is.
My friend Jon spends his free time visiting the Arlington Cancer Center waiting room making new friends. New friends diagnosed with cancer. He’s holding their hands and propping them up and leading cheers in the biggest battle of their lives. He is their newest and best friend.
He has walked many miles in their shoes. Interestingly, his nickname has always been ‘Big Foot’. He leaves a big print for all of us to emulate.
I pray today that someone will help the parents of the ill fated child in Chicago; that they will be folks that have walked in the same shoes and really do know how to help.
The way my friend Jon knows how to help.
I feel better now.
Thanks Jon, for spreading life all around.