The start of the school year was always my favorite time of year. It meant all sorts of new things were coming my way: a new backpack, new lunch box, new t-shirts and new pants. And most importantly, in my opinion, new shoes.
In my house growing up, we usually only got one new pair of shoes a year and had to wear them until they were falling off our feet before we could get another. There was also a standing rule when it came to shoe purchases: shoes must cost $25 or less. This was because my mom believed, and rightly so, that if you pay more than $25 you are probably just paying for the name. While that may have been true, it didn’t stop me from wanting the name brand footwear.
It wasn’t until my freshman year that I got my shot at a nice new pair of name brand shoes. My uncle had offered to take me shoe shopping and buy me one pair of whatever I would like. I knew exactly what I wanted, and my little teenage heart was about to explode at the idea of walking into my first day of high school with really sweet shoes on my feet.
Unfortunately, the store that carried the shoes I wanted didn’t have them in my size… but they did have them a half size smaller than my size. I squished my feet into those shoes and strutted down the store aisle, too awestruck to realize just how badly my feet were hurting. I went home ready to start the school year in style.
On day one, I squeezed my feet back into the shoes and started walking to school. I hadn’t gone two blocks before I realized what a terrible mistake I had made. By the time I got home that afternoon, my blisters had blisters. And the worst part, nobody even noticed my shoes. They did not make me popular. They did not get my crush to notice me (though I did marry her 8 years later, but that’s another story, and has nothing to do with shoes!).
It’s funny how often in life the things that we think possess the greatest meaning or significance end up meaning very little – like promotions, or new cars, or big expensive vacations. In the end, it is usually the simple, ordinary, obvious things that mean the most: family, and love, and connection to God and one another. Take care in what you chase after; don’t let the crowds or the commercials decide for you what really matters most.
Grace and Peace,
P.S. – After that first day of school, those shoes wound up in a dark corner of my closet. I wore the (inexpensive, non-name brand) shoes from the previous year until they finally wore out over Christmas break, and my parents replaced them.