I’m known for my shoes. Or, rather- for my obsession with shoes.
I admit I’ve earned my notoriety. I have shoes for every occasion. And I’m not afraid to use them.
I have shoes for walking, running, barefoot running (it made sense at the time.) biking, water sports, beach wear, indoor wear, lounging, dancing, dinner, (Dinner shoes= shoes too uncomfortable to actually walk in but look cute peeking out from under a tablecloth.) shopping, speaking, snow.. the list is infinite. It’s not just a shoe collection, I wear them.
- I bring an entire bag of shoes camping. I see this as a practical necessity- due to the different climates and activities camping involves. However, friends tell me is evidence of my shoe obsession. Something about camping and minimalism going together. To which I respond: I DON’t BRING ALL OF THEM- so it’s minimalistic. Duh.
- When weighing my luggage at the airport- friends, family and the TSA know what put me over the (in my opinion: anorexic) weight limit. (I think my photo is on some watch list for luggage handler abuse) Travel= greater necessity for this right shoe to wear. A bad shoe choice on vacation, can ruin your trip.)
- I’ve occasionally taken up a sport because I found it’s footwear flattering. (Maybe. Once. Or, twice.)
- A good pair of platform pumps can change my BMI significantly. (BMI Height/weight math stuff taller+ same weight= thinner. In my head, f not my jeans.)
- Shoes lead to adventures. (In my head dancing shoes mean i’ll dance, trekking shoes mean I’ll trek….whatever trek, means. You get the gist.)
- Shoes don’t just make the man… they make the woman. (Or at least her outfit. Something like that.)
All of this is probably why I’ve been working on the “Mile in Her Shoes” writing project. I love stepping into the shoes of others and seeing life from their perspective. I’m passionate about helping women to connect with each other, breaking through their assumptions to intimacy- because I believe we are better- together.
I’ve delighted in wearing the shoes of a homeschool mom, a working mom, a work from home mom, a stay at home mom, a public school mom, a private school mom, a soccer mom etc. …..I’ve learned so much about the different types of women God has brought into my life- by simply living out what my mom always taught me: “Never judge a person until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” As I’ve walked miles in the shoes of other mothers, I’ve learned that the desire to judge disappears. It’s been replaced with respect, understanding and compassion.
From iconic black heels to orthopedic comfort shoes and slippers- each pair I’ve walked in has brought me joy.
Right now I’m wearing shoes I don’t like.I’m wearing. Shoes I would never have chosen if Life (and God) hadn’t chosen them for me.
Unlike some of my other shoes- It’s not the design or fit that is the problem. (Please note: I’ve worn my share of cute but uncomfortable shoes with glee… Until the blisters formed, anyway. And then? I wore them with bandaids.) Nope- this time- it’s what they mean.
Which shoes am I wearing? I’m wearing the adorable and quirky Tom’s Movember shoes. For some, they are just: cute. Charcoal grey and comfy flat with tiny white embroidered mustaches on the side. For others: They are helpful. (The proceeds go to help raise awareness of cancers that affect men.)
For me? They are more. They are a statement of solidarity as my husband and I walk side by side through his battle with prostate cancer. These are my Prostate Cancer- butt kicking, shoes. To be honest? They are shoes I’d rather not wear. (I never thought I’d say that.) Because I’d rather not walk a mile in a cancer battle.
My husband said he got cancer just so he could get his own chapter. I told him I’ll write him his own book if he’d just quit the cancer thing. Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t work that way. So, I wear them. And I’m writing about the miles I walk in these shoes, too. They weren’t in my chapter outline for the book proposal, but, they are on my feet and in my life. And- in the lives of so many others. Maybe not prostate cancer- but breast cancer, or lung cancer. Maybe not even cancer- but a long term illness. Pain. SOmething else you’d rather be able to flip off like a pair of dollar store flip flops but can’t.
Maybe, there’s a story to tell here, too. Maybe, there are assumptions we make about others who walk in these shoes, too. Like: “They don’t have enough faith to be healed.” Or: “All they ever talk about is: Cancer.” Or: “He, (or she) just wants pity and attention.” Or even: “I bet she’s a prescription drug addict. That’s all she talks about.”
To be honest-I don’t even know what the prejudices or assumptions, are. This is all new to me. Both the cancer- and my own on going health issues. (I’m having another cervical fusion in a few weeks. I never knew what it was like to have chronic pain until the past year. Let’s suffice to say: it sucks.) I wish I could put these shoes into my shoe donation box and be done with them. I wish I didn’t have to walk along side my kids in these shoes. I wish I could fling them into a recycling bin and maybe even watch them be torn to shreds.
Instead I’ll tell the truth about walking in them, as an offering to those who wear them after me and to those who notice them on the feet of women they meet. Because I believe this journey would be better if we lived it together.
Dear Lord- This is not a chapter I want to write. This is not a journey I want to walk or shoes I want to wear. Yet, here it is, I have a choice. To wear them and walk these miles in faith, sharing the journey with others, or to walk the miles in isolation and frustration that my path has veered from what I’d planned. (I was planning to wear a burqa next to find out what it’s like to walk a mile in the shoes of my muslim neighbor…)Instead- I choose faith. I choose truth. I choose you. Even here. Help me wear these shoes with dignity. I love you. Amen.