Before my brain cells even had the time to process the thought, my hand reached for my phone. I thought, “I need help. I will just make a post real quick asking if anyone can trade me shoes.” And then as the final neuron fired to let the thought become whole, I crumbled. Reality caught up. No one can trade shoes with me. These are MY shoes; the shoes I was trusted to wear. They are worn to the shape of my feet, and even those painful blisters they caused have been allowed because it was known that my feet would withstand the wounds.
I peek in on drowsy faces and memorize the tufts of hair and spatters of freckles that move with the rhythm of innocent peaceful sleep. Sleep is such bliss because you forget, and right now they are sleeping peacefully, hopefully dreaming of some beautiful far off land, or another enchanting adventure. Right now they have found solace from reality.
My light burned dim next to my bedside as the night hours stretched one into the next. The quiet of the house invited me to slumber, but the heaviness of my heart would not allow. I thought again on my shoes. This unflattering, beat up pair that I would have never chosen for myself, and yet they are the ones I find myself wearing most often. Even the times I have thought I am done with them, and slipped them into the donate box or the outside trash, they always seem to find their way back to my closet. That’s how I know I cannot simply ask someone to trade with me. No, they are mine to wear.
My mind is wild as I run through all of the possible scenarios for how the day could unfold. There is definitely no thought of sleep. I grasp empty air and plead with my Maker, begging for mercy, for grace, for pardon. He turns my thoughts back to my shoes and how as uncomfortable as they are they have always carried me to my next destination. They have provided shelter from sharp shards meant to slice tender soles, and they have kept me dry when my footsteps skirted troubled waters. These shoes have not always been easy to wear, but He reminds me that He has always given me the strength to do it. He has always filled me with enough to wake up and put on those shoes each next time, and make it each day walking a path I want to run from. His reminders bring peace, and my heavy eyes sleep, escaping the pinching narrow toe of my shoes, and running barefoot along a sandy paradise.
The next morning reality hangs in gray strings of fog from the tree limbs, but I confidently don my shoes. I step toward the hard thing, knowing it’s coming ready or not. That’s when I noticed across the way from me a young woman with frazzled hair and deep pockets of purple beneath her eyes. Her thin body seems to tilt back and forth as if it might fall and shatter at any moment. I almost dismiss her, but I happen to catch a glance beneath her long, dusty skirt the shape of a pair of shoes like mine. The same pinched toes and blistered spots, and while her shoes are not exactly like mine, they are similar enough to know she has been walking a lonely and grueling journey, just like me.
I smiled knowingly at her, and gave her a small fist pump in the air, as if to say, “stay in it! Keep going forward! You’ll get there soon.” And I thrust my pointy toe forward to show her; you were never alone.