Imagine opening a book you have never read at chapter 10 and you start disliking the main character because of an action he or she did in that chapter. Wouldn’t it be crazy to do that? In fact, one might say that it is stupid. Right?
Can it be done? Certainly. Will you get the broader picture in terms of who the person is? Absolutely not. Atticus Finch in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, told his daughter Scout that in order to understand people, she has to walk around in their skin. See, this goes beyond what we have heard as it relates to “walking a day in my shoes”. Walking in someone’s shoes is easier than wearing their skin. It requires a deeper level of empathy and understanding.
Our lives are like books, and when we meet an individual, we start at a particular chapter. It is foolish to judge someone based on where we meet him/her on that journey. It is almost impossible to hate someone once you get to know them. For years, I hated my grandfather. You read that right, I hated him. We feared him as children and breathed a sigh of relief every time he left the house. Countless times he abused my grandmother and we witnessed it as children. So for years, I hated him. What was interesting though is that my grandmother never treated him the way he treated her. She showered him with love, much to my dismay. I just couldn’t understand how she could still treat him with such respect and honour. Years later, he was terminally ill with prostate cancer and he stayed with us a little. One day when we were alone, he began opening up. And for the first time in my life, I saw the previous chapters of his life and immediately understood why he was the way he was. Now, don’t get me wrong, understanding someone doesn’t excuse the bad behavior. What it does however, is allow us to walk around in their skin a little. Things started making sense. Actions by the person now have a deeper meaning than what you thought when you entered that particular chapter in his or her life.
I cried when my grandfather died, something I thought I would never do. But, he allowed me to see him through a different lens and I was no longer angry with him. I still know he was wrong for his actions and that there was absolutely no excuse for those actions. However, I was able to SEE him for the first time and I understood why he felt he had to react that way.
Oftentimes we write a person off because of where we start reading his/her book. The truth is, if we take the time to understand someone a little bit more we can not only love them flaws and all, but we are in a position to effect change. Do not write off anyone. Do not write off yourself. See, this is why people cannot understand how God could love the vilest of sinners. He doesn’t start in the middle of the book, he knows the beginning and the end. He knows the heart most importantly and sees things in others and in us that others can’t.
Who have you written off ? Have you asked yourself why that person is the way he/she is? Or have you formed your perception and you are sticking to it even though you are starting the book in the middle? To truly understand someone walk around in their skin a little, or a lot for that matter. Love is not just loving those who love us and are nice to us. The true test of love is to serve those who have hurt you. Can you do it?