I am currently in negotiations with my new tennis shoes. They give me blisters and a few toes have gone numb on two out of three runs. But I bought the brand and size that have served me well these ten years since I went and had my soles read by the shoe man in the city. He had me take off the shoes. He watched me walk, then run. He inspected the wear of the tread and observed the spread of my toes, then told me which brand of shoes I would need to wear for the rest of my life. Incidentally, he chose the least attractive of all the brands. Just my luck to wear uncool sneaks for the remainder of my days. Fitting, really.
Anyhow, the problem with my new shoes is perplexing. And made complicated by the fact that the pair they replaced are in tennis shoe heaven in Sacramento. Even if I hadn’t left them behind, there would be no going back. The old pair was worn out, plain and simple. My knees had started to hurt, which is how I know it is time for replacements. But because we are on a budget I let Santa know mid-October what I was hoping to find under the tree and gingerly ran on sore knees. Which means my stride wasn’t natural. Which means I would usually come home with low back pain and tension between my shoulder blades. Which means that I started leaving my shoes in the closet and ate more donuts and drank more coffee to make up for the lack of endorphins. Turns out the right shoes make a big difference in how I live my life.
I am not the only person in my house for whom shoes have been a major roadblock to happiness. Sis has an extremely shallow reserve of tolerance for things that don’t fit right. Miss Patti compared her to the fabled princess and her famous pea.
“Except we call Sis the Princess and the Lentil,” Miss Patti informed me at pick up one day as we both watched her convulsing and hollering about a bunchie in her sock. Many tears have been shed in many doorways, as Sarah has had to wrestle with the shoe-related realities of life in a colder climate. As I dress the others I will hear her scolding her footwear.
“Shoe, you are not cooperating with me. You are making this day very difficult.” “Sock, you are not doing the right thing. You need a time out.”
“Snow boot, you are making this family late for school. Get on my team.”
But shoes are part of life for us, and there is just no getting around it.
As a gift to myself and with high hopes for smoother mornings I took the big kids to the shoe store the week before preschool started and told them they could choose any pair they liked. There were no parameters, but I was clear that whatever they chose they would wear for the year. It was really fun to watch them gravitate towards shoes that fit their personalities. They both made wise choices and monitored they shiny shoe boxes, waiting by the door, like eggs they expected to hatch any moment.
All this business about shoes has spawned reflection on what I have chosen to wear in my walk with God and what I have squeezed my feet into for the Long March of motherhood. Abraham Lincoln said, “Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” True enough. So I ask myself if I am wearing the right shoes. Have I laced them properly? Have I worn them enough to break them in and let my feet adjust? Or have I stuffed them in the closet prematurely? Are they the right size? Have I grown or worn out the old comfy favorites? Maybe I am ready for something new. New might mean a different size, color or model. But one thing is for sure. I know which brand I am supposed to wear. The man who knows all about shoes made that clear a long time ago.
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” Ephesians 6:14-15