Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Favorite Shoes

I have a favorite pair of shoes. They certainly aren't the best ones in my closet, but when I put these brown Mary Jane's on, I just feel comfortable. They are perfectly broken in, they're cute and they go with lots of things. But if I'm honest, there's a problem with my favorite pair of shoes.

You see, at the top of these shoes, where there used to be a darling shade of chocolate brown, there are now two solid lines of white scuff. Time and wear have taken their toll on these shoes and these marks tell the story. Even though these shoes are looking pretty rough, it's hard for me to let them go. And here's why: It took time and wear to make these shoes mine. And now they're oh so comfortable. (I also happen to like the way they're styled. ) And even though the scuff marks now betray their cute factor, I still find myself going to them first, like "golden boy" on Seinfeld - Jerry's yellow sweatshirt that was always the first thing he wore when all of the laundry was washed.

A few weeks ago, when I put on these favorite shoes, I saw them for what they were: past their time. And it was a sobering picture to me of the way I approach other things I've outgrown in life. I began to think about the parallels between how dragging my feet had scored those timelines on my shoes and how dragging my feet in life was doing the same on my heart.

What is it when God asks us to move on that causes us to hold so tight to the present, or sometimes the past? I think my shoes can shed some light on this phenomenon.

1. We value comfortable. I don't want to get new shoes because these are so comfy. I like the way they've been primed to cushion my feet. And I have been willing to give up the new for the comfortable. How much more so am I doing that in life? Forsaking new for the sake of comfortable?

2. We avoid pain. Starting something new costs us. Getting a new pair of shoes will cost me money. It will cost me time in discovering what pair will next best suit me. It forces me to face my fear: What if I give my shoes up only to never find a pair I like as much? So, starting fresh costs me money, time, emotion, but there's more. Just like my shoes will cost me discomfort as I learn to walk in a new pair, so beginning new steps can be equally hard. No one likes the pinching, blistering or squeezing that new shoes sometimes cause. But there are times when we must press on anyways. Sometimes, what we find so uncomfortable in the beginning opens the door to a whole new pair of shoes, a whole new part of life, we would have never imagined we'd like so much.

3. We get stuck looking down. I love my little brown shoes. And though others may see a scuffed, boring pair of plain shoes, I see a darling little set that's perfectly suited to my personality. I love to admire their shape and their stitching because it makes me happy. You may laugh at that, but I promise you there are ways we all do this in our lives. There are pet things in our lives that we get stuck admiring, when the time to give them up has long passed. Just like I do with my shoes, we get busy looking down, admiring where we are or where we've been instead of where we're headed. You can't go very far with your head looking down. Sometimes, what was good for a season loses its value and its relevance for now, and it becomes time to pick our head and our feet up and move on.

So what do we do when we find ourselves stuck in a rut? We make a decision to go forward. We take time to treasure the comfort and beauty and enjoyment of a particular season or thing or experience. We thank God for it. And then, we lay it down. We trust that this life is just a passing through to the eternal life we were meant to live forever with Christ in heaven. And we realize that anything He asks us to lay down is of far lesser importance than the treasure of Christ Himself. We trust the God who had the creativity to even dream up shoes. We trust that His ability to design new and tailored shoes and seasons and assignments would blow our minds if we were able to see it from His point of view. His creativity is endless and His attention to personal detail is both comforting and trustworthy.

So this morning, I'm asking myself, as I'm asking you: Are you willing to quit dragging your feet? Are you willing to lay down your favorite projects, ideas, and dreams and trust God to lead you to your next set of shoes?

Galatians 5:25 "Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit."


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