Twenty-five-year-old boots sit on the top shelf in my closet. They are brown leather and in fantastic shape, considering their age. I don't wear them as often as I used to, but they still fit and get a little use on the few cold days in the South.
I imagine I'll still keep them, even after the rubber soles pull apart.
Timberlands – I coveted the boots back in Middle School. They were the "in" thing, and all popular kids wore them. You are not supposed to long for something, but experience teaches us this lesson.
The boots came with a hefty price tag, and there was no room in the budget for a single mom. She suggested I earn money if I really wanted the shoes. Well, I really wanted the boots.
So I mowed yards and not with a riding lawnmower – not even a gas lawnmower. No, it was one of the old-time push mowers with a cylinder of blades. It was like a mid-evil torture device, especially in the middle of summer in the deep South. But there were not enough mosquitos or chiggers to keep me from the end goal.
I wanted those shoes.
And I got the shoes.
It was like walking on clouds the first day wearing the boots in the school hall. It was still too hot to justify wearing boots, but I didn't care. I achieved a new social status with these boots -- crossing thresholds was my perception.
Sitting on the curb during lunch, I admired my new shoes. It was the first time I had owned something with genuine leather, and I tapped my toes. A girl took a seat next to me, and we started chatting.
She looked down at my feet and said, "New shoes?"
"Yep, I just got them," I replied.
"You must have bought them at the outlet because the left shoe is messed up and doesn't match the right," she said as she pointed to my left foot.
My heart sunk in my chest. I felt like a deflated balloon, no longer flying amongst the clouds. Instead, I was scraping the ground, having fallen from the social status ladder in a matter of seconds.
I didn't want to be different. I didn't want anyone to know about my bargain-priced shoes. I didn't want anyone to know about cutting the lawns.
I wanted to be the same.
She pointed out a slight difference. One I had somehow missed in my excitement trying on the shoes. Something I was oblivious to now became obnoxiously apparent to me. And it kept tapping on my shoulder, saying, "look, look at me."
There was no more toe-tapping or heel-clicking. This was all overshadowed by the flaw. It was all I noticed. It wasn't just the shoes I deemed defective; it was me. I wasted a lot of time in my school years seeking social status. Fighting hard to be the same, I sought my worth from people who didn't even want to give me the time of day. This left me feeling lonely and unworthy – riding an emotional rollercoaster fueled by misunderstanding and pubescent hormones.
I'm sure many others have ridden this rollercoaster too.
Luckily for me, I slowly – sometimes painstakingly -- learned my worth is only found in our Heavenly Father. It's honestly a continual education.
I'm not sure why God put freckles on my nose or gave me a size nine shoe. I have no clue why he made me over six feet tall with a dislike for basketball. My exuberant, sometimes quirky personality has me questioning his design-making skills. I'm sure my husband asks the same thing. But, hey -- he's the one who put a ring on it.
God also put a passion in my heart fueled by a lifetime of watching Him do work in me. I want to encourage you to let Him do incredible work in you. You are never too young nor too old to invite Him into your life. You are never too much of a nobody for Him to notice.
He takes special care to collect the broken pieces cracked by others and ourselves. He glues them meticulously back together, gentle in His work. When needed, He'll do it all over again.
He will do it for you – again and again.
Then He will equip you with determination, just like He did for me the next day as I tied the laces on my new boots.
The defect plainly stared me down, but God pushed pretty hard, and I walked forward. He pushed me forward, and I kept walking. The next time, the defect was still noticeable – but it had a more negligible effect as I slipped on the boots.
Eventually, the imperfection became hindsight as I no longer looked down, tripping over my own feet. I could not see clearly beyond my limited observation. Plainly, the problem was not the shoes; it was due to nearsightedness.
But He has resolve.
I eventually looked up.
And I learned to run.
Because you can't run while staring at your feet.