“I don’t want those shoes!” I whined. “I want those!” I pointed to another pair, which to my inexperienced six-year-old mind seemed a lot better than the ones both the salesperson with his insincere grin and my mother were keen on.
“But Koos,” my mother pleaded, “you have flat feet. You need shoes with the right support.”
But I was not convinced. To me, all feet seemed flat. The shoes she wanted to buy for me looked like they were worn by mountaineers starting a climb of Mt. Everest, whereas the ones I wanted came with bright red shoelaces and a silver buckle.
Mother sighed, and the smile on the face of the salesperson faded into a frustrated stare, because the shoes I wanted were significantly cheaper.
“These shoes will be no good on long walks,” Mother tried again. “They will hurt and frustrate you.”
But I was a pretty willful, self-centered child, and my mother was raising me and my brother alone. In the end, she nearly always gave in, as she did this time. As we walked out of the store, I proudly wore my shiny new shoes, and a group of elderly women on the street stopped to coo “How sweet.”
But the next evening, our car broke down. In those days in Holland, there weren’t that many cars on the roads—and certainly not any 24-hour towing services. The only thing we could do was walk the seven kilometers back home and sort it out the following day.
How I hated that walk! I hated my shiny new shoes with the red shoelaces! I hated the bloody blisters all over my toes, and I complained all the way home!
I ended up with the heavy-duty leather shoes I’d needed all along. I was grateful, and even though they didn’t look nearly as fetching, I knew why I was better off with them.
Remembering the story about my shoes made me think of a lesson. How often we try to present ourselves as something beautiful. We want to walk in shoes we think will make us look beautiful, while God knows we may need something different, something that will actually be good for us.
At times, I’ve been a fair-weather Christian. I’ve worn shiny shoes of religiosity, boldly proclaiming the virtues of grace and condemning sin. But when the tests came, I wasn’t always able to “walk the walk” I was preaching. I’m still learning to trust and accept the type of shoes God gives me and to wear them with a gracious smile. After all, Father knows best.