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The tangled web

The Life Less Traveled

September 10, 2014
I was taking the trash out last week when I walked face-first into a spider web. This is one the creepiest feelings in the world. You're walking along, minding your own business, when sticky tendrils of web grab your face out of the blue.

For a split-second you have no idea what happened. Then, it hits you. Webs. Spiders.


Tarantula? Black widow? Brown recluse? Doesn't matter. It's probably in your hair, and you're about to die. At least that's what I always assume.

That's when I break into a crazy dance, pawing at my cheeks, slapping my head and doing whatever it takes to free myself from what is sure to be that giant spider from the movie "Arachnophobia."

Fortunately, on the night I took out my trash, no one was around to watch. Had they been, though, I'm sure I looked ridiculous.

After all, from a distance, you can't see the spider web. All you can see is a guy flailing, swatting and hopping around like a maniac. With no visible web to explain the madness, I looked like I was having convulsions.

If you ever see me do this, go ahead and laugh. I understand.

What's not so funny is there's a principle here that I see at work in other areas of our lives.

We tend to judge people by appearances when we have no idea what's going on in their life. From a distance, a person's actions don't always make sense. Emotional outbursts. Overreactions. Depression. Stupid choices. And the list goes on.

To us, they may look ridiculous, but from their vantage point, they're fighting for their life. They've stepped into some kind of circumstance that's right in their face. They're panicked. They react.

In their world, it makes perfect sense.

But to us, we don't see the spider web that's tripping them up. We just see their reaction to it.

So, we judge them. We label them. We distance ourselves.

All the while, they're left to struggle on their own.

We never know what personal battles people are fighting or how we'd react if we had to live their life.

It's one thing to walk a mile in someone else's shoes, but try walking a mile in their web. Then, we'd learn the true value of mercy, understanding and basic kindness that might be just what someone needs to get themselves untangled and walk away free.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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