Other people’s shoes

If I could list my two great passions, it would have to be writing and acting.

I have always written stories and poems. My mum encouraged me to read from an early age, and I developed a love for the written word.

I wrote for fun – and therapy. In my teens I’d daily fill the pages of my diary with anguish and heartbreak. I was quite melancholy and needed a regular outlet.

I didn’t realise acting was my ‘thing’ till later in life. I felt this growing desire to express myself through bringing other characters to life. In my classes last year I understood what it meant to put yourself in someone else’s shoes – to find compassion for a character and convey them fully. I think fiction writers have to do this too. Without truly understanding the people we represent creatively, we won’t engage with our audience.

I think the same goes for our ‘real’ human interactions. We have to walk in people’s shoes to know them, and love them. We need to convey understanding so they will trust us. We need to empathise, which means experiencing their emotions with them. Compassion is not just a feeling, but an action which often requires sacrifice.


Henri J.M. Nouwen writes:

β€œCompassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into the places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”

I think this sounds like a big ask. Compassion requires time and energy. It often means a ‘second look’ when we see someone suffering. We might be called to give quality time we don’t really have. It might translate to inviting someone into a community where they can be cared for and helped. It might mean just a moment of grace. Of love. Of warmth. And it might mean prayers filled with tears.

But we don’t do compassion alone. We seek God’s wisdom. Jesus’s strength. The Father’s heart. We enter into people’s lives knowing He has already gone before us. He had a plan for that person before we met them. He loves them more than we ever could. May we ask God to lead the way to the needy, the hurting, the complex, the simple. We need eyes to see and the capacity to meet need wisely, with compassion that doesn’t stop at a feeling of sorrow.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Matt. 25:45


  1. Wow, I’m a bit overcome with this definition of action with compassion. Thank God that we have His help through our relationship with His son, Jesus Christ.
    You hit it on the nail, again! ❀

  2. And I thought I knew what compassion was!!! I like your definition because it brings it to life. Compassion is tangible and real, and not just about feeling pity for someone! I am surely challenged by your post Ali. Thank you!

    1. Haha. It’s an interesting word. I think it’s easy to be moved or touched, but God really works when we put compassion into action whether through prayer or practical, loving help.. A challenge for us all!

  3. Beautiful, Ali. And such a poignant reminder at this time of year when so many are hurting even more than usual seeing all the joy around them. And…I did the same thing as a teen — wrote tons of dark and dismal poetry and loved to act in plays. πŸ™‚ Blessings to you and yours this Christmas season for days filled with peace and wonder and love. xxoo

    1. Thank you Sheila πŸ™‚ So true. The ache is real for so many…
      Haha – the hobbies of us creative types…
      Thank you so much, and may you and Michael be blessed during this season as you bless others so generously. Love to you Xxoo

  4. Thank you, Ali, for helping us take a closer look at compassion. It sounds like a commitment to be compassionate . . .it sounds like I need His help for this!
    God bless you and fill your life with His compassion!

  5. Full and rich, as your posts always are, Ali. Commitment is key–and some folks still shy away from that concept, including me sometimes–so I’m extra glad I’m not doing anything alone–only and always with Jesus, the Father and the Holy Spirit. Blessings to you!

      1. Haha! I can be that too!
        I love acting, but my training is very limited. I would love to do more one day, but for now it’s in the category of hobby/ministry πŸ™‚ Which is fine by me πŸ™‚

      2. I’m curious–what in particular you like to do: dramas, musicals, comedy? Local theater, or are you shooting for the big screen one day? (I LOVE local theater, but no longer have the means to attend.)

      3. I am part of a local group/drama club which meets to rehearse and perform from movie scripts and plays for each other. Pretty low-key.
        I also occasionally audition for TV commercials but it’s very competitive.
        Also do skits/short scenes sometimes for church.
        Would like to act in a theatre company play on-stage one day. That would be fun! Any genre πŸ™‚
        Sorry you can’t get to local theatre anymore. It is fun!

    1. Yeah. Sometimes I think we convince ourselves we’ve shown compassion because we’ve felt it.
      Thanks, so glad can give us empathy for others in their individual circumstances.

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