When I was little, I loved putting on my mom’s high-heeled shoes and imagining I was a grown-up. I remember looking out the car window when passing the “projects” area of Chicago, wondering what it would be like to wear the shoes of a kid who grew up there.
As an actor, I’ve had to step vicariously into the shoes of characters I’ve played. Many times, I’ve had to dig deep to try to understand what made the person I was portraying think, believe, and act.
We can only imagine what it’s like to walk in the shoes of another. But Jesus actually did it. The apostle Paul writes, “He gave up everything, even his place with God. He accepted the role of a servant, appearing in human form. During his life as a man, he humbled himself by being fully obedient to God, even when that caused his death—death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7,8 ERV).
Jesus became one of us so we could know with certainty that he fully understands how difficult our earthly walk can be. He did it so we could trust with certainty that he not only sees our pain but has also felt it. He did it so we would believe with certainty how much he loves us.
We will never be able to understand completely what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. But might not the racially and politically divided world in which we currently live greatly benefit if all of us did our utmost to at least try to slip them on?