"You never truly know someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes."
I've heard this quote a hundred times and I thought I could relate to its meaning and the underlying notion of putting ourselves in the position of another person in order to see the situation through their eyes. While in some situations I do feel like I've "walked a mile in their shoes" in others I know I merely put the shoes on, did the walk and turn and look in the mirror, and returned them to their box.
I thought I would relate some of the recent lessons I've learned about putting myself in other people's shoes to a few pairs of my own shoes.
Orange Manolo Blahniks: These shoes caught my eye in on our honeymoon and once I put them on I knew the difference between all my beloved Nine West pumps and a pair of designer shoes. To look at them they appear uncomfortable but somehow manage to conform to my foot, high arches and all. It took a year before those shoes made their way into my closet for my anniversary present but they were worth the wait. Waiting so long to get them and finding out their appearance was not indicative of how they really are is how I felt recently when I had been basing my feelings toward someone off speculation of what I thought they were thinking about me. As it turns out when I got closer to that person I found the discomfort in our relationship had nothing to do with us being a bad fit. It was skewed by misunderstandings that created a distance neither of us had tried to breach until now. As with my orange Manolos a good fit is impossible to find if you rely on appearance and quite often we are more grateful for relationships that take a little more time to develop as I was in waiting for these shoes.
Gray 991's: My favorite pair of tennis shoes give me great support and their neutral color goes with everything. I've had them since my Just for Feet days and they are still going strong. I can relate these shoes to my closest friendships. We have been friends long enough and been through enough that it's easy to get comfortable and lose touch but we don't. I believe we've all walked a few miles in each other's shoes and are better for it. We may not talk every day but when we do it's easy to pick up where we left off. My favorite moment at our wedding was dancing to Shout and seeing our closest friends together laughing and smiling. I hope when I'm 80 we are still making time to catch up and remain close. Recently it's been an adjustment being so far away from all my closest friends. In most of these relationships, it's the first time we have lived in different cities and had to make an effort to stay connected with what's going on in each other's lives. Making the time for phone calls, texts, the occasional facebook message, and visits allows us to continue to support each other regardless of distance.
Rainbows: I have two pairs and I honestly can't remember which pair came from Kinnucan's and which pair I bought at the beach sophomore Spring Break. Regardless I remember being told that they would need to form to my feet and until they did I would get blisters. It took some time for these to become comfortable and for me to enjoy wearing them. This is what it's been like moving to Huntsville where we don't know as many people as we did in Auburn. Instead of most of our friends being a few miles away now they are spread out everywhere with only a few being in driving distance. It's different from anywhere either of us has lived and it's taking me some time to fall in love with living here. Finding what we feel like is the perfect house has helped with the transition but I still miss having close friends down the hall or just a walk away. I'm sure in time I will wonder how we ever lived anywhere but here but for now I think I'm still trying to get comfortable with where God has led us. These things take time you know!
Basketball shoes: These are the shoes I've had longer than any other pair. I got them in 1996 and I haven't worn them since the last game of Senior year. I don't know if I'll wear them again but I won't ever get rid of them. As always these shoes take me back to Hooper and the 13 years I went there. It's hard to believe our 10 year reunion is right around the corner. There's nothing I would trade for all I learned there. When we say we've known someone our whole life we actually mean it. Thinking about the reunion has made me think about how much we have all changed and where life has taken us. I'd be lying if I said I had stayed in touch with everyone as much as I would like. I don't believe the whole "We just drifted apart" bit. It's a choice on both sides not to call or stop by and after awhile it just becomes easier to continue leaving things as they are and by the time I pause and look back it feels impossible to step back into that part of my life again. Regardless I will always be there for them if they decide they need me.
Perhaps comparing relationships in my life with my shoes is juvenile and somewhat trivial but after this I'll probably never look at any of those shoes without being reminded of these relationships and what all these people mean to me. Allan wanted to know what pair of shoes he would be so for his benefit I'm including my Auburn flip flops in the mix. I've had these since freshman year when Allan and I met. I've worn them to almost every football game Allan and I have gone to together. They are a perfect fit just like Allan is for me. He compliments me and as many things as we have in common we probably have just as many differences but that makes us us!