The first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden. (Phaedrus)
A few years ago, I stopped at a local shoe store called Marty’s with my mother and my Aunt Elena. Although I wasn’t in the mood to shop, I decided to browse a bit while my aunt tried on some shoes. Suddenly, a pair of open-back sandals caught my attention. You would have thought I hit the lottery as I put them on my feet and walked up and down the aisles in the store. “Mom,” I yelled, as tears streamed down my face. “Look!” I said as I proudly pointed down to my feet. Although my aunt looked at me like I had definitely lost it, my mother smiled from ear to ear as tears filled her own eyes. She understood the source of my joy.
The other customers and store personnel stared at me up and down wondering what all the excitement was about. I mean honestly it’s only a pair of sandals, right? Well, yes and no. At the time, I was 40 years old and this was the first time I had ever been able to keep a pair of open-backed shoes on my feet. I was born with Cerebral Palsy (CP). Because of this I have limited muscle tone in my legs and suffer from bilateral hearing loss. These particular sandals, though backless, were made with a spandex material which didn’t require any effort on my part in order to keep them on my feet.
I spent time in a wheelchair, had surgery on my right leg to stretch the tendon so that I could finally put my foot down, and also learned how to walk with leg braces. Because of my disability, I can’t hold sandals on my feet without any back support. It may seem silly and minor to some but a part of me always resented everyone else when I saw them wearing flip flops or the like. During the summer months, I longed to be able to do the same. I wanted to be like everyone else. To me, it was a way to fit in. Honestly, those sandals were Manolo Blahniks to me. There is no price I wouldn’t have paid.
Let me also add here that I am lucky enough to have only a mild case of CP. Most people would never even know that I have this disability. To most, I just look like someone who walks with a limp.
Those sandals came in two colors. I bought ever single pair they had in my size. You could just imagine the look on the cashier’s face when I walked up carrying six pairs of the same shoes.
Now, let’s be honest. Say you were a patron in that store with me that day and saw everything unfold. Would you have smiled sharing in my excitement or would you have secretly assumed that I was a little strange? I’m betting that most people would say the latter.
My point in telling you this story is that things are not always what they seem. We should never assume things at face value in life. When we assume things about someone else, without taking the time to better know them and their circumstances, we are more often than not, wrong. Always give someone the benefit of the doubt. Many have compromised life-long friendships because of hasty assumptions which end up being false.
I once heard a story about a man who went to the synagogue one day for afternoon prayers and found himself seated behind a father who was rude and kept yelling at his very loud four children. The man became very irritated by their behavior and wished that they would just leave. At the conclusion of the service, these same four children stood in a row and recited the mourner’s kaddish. They were mourning the death of their mother.
Of course, this man now felt terrible and regretted his initial reaction. There is a mitzvah in the Torah which is called judging others favorably. The point is that instead of jumping to conclusions about someone, we should always consider every alternative explanation. Perhaps, as in the story above, we are missing something.
Again, always give someone the benefit of the doubt. Think before you act. If you don’t, you may regret it later.
Please also join and help spread the word about my Visits From Heaven Facebook Group
This group is based on Josie Varga’s bestselling book, Visits from Heaven, which contains evidential afterlife communication accounts from around the world. The purpose of this group is to give people a place where they can come to share their own experiences without fear of being judged. It is also a place for the bereaved to find comfort in knowing that life never ends and love never dies.