Our oldest has been blessed since the day we shared with the world he was coming. He has been particularly blessed in the shoe department. When he was younger, I received so many different kind of nice shoes, I was so anxious for him to grow. He had these cute brown Puma shoes, black Chucks, tan shoes, tennis shoes… I think we even received some boots! Now, mind you, none of these were brand spanking new, but they were pretty close, hence my excitement in knowing I was going to be able to delay shoe purchases for a while. Yay me!
He eventually grew and started trotting along and I noticed something ugly- the time it took for me to figure out which shoes would go with what he had on for the day. I mean, literally, the kid had more shoes than I did!
At this point, I knew it was time to simplify and give some away; it was not this serious! This became an even greater conviction upon returning from South Africa. December 2010. 10 days I’ll never forget.
Seeing the things I saw- shoeless feet on the ground of a neighborhood that the city dumps its waste, siblings who wore the face of their meth-addicted mother, worn soles on worn souls- there was no need for me to have the extra that wasn’t needed. I saw people in places who did well with the little they had while knowing they needed more… not wanted, but really NEEDED. How, after being there, could I be satisfied with living the way I was here?
My heart moved into action and I cut the number of shoes he had down to tennis, black and brown and gave away the rest. Life moved on, feet got bigger and those oh so cute shoes graciously became less important but necessary as they moved on with our next little one.
Four years later and 3 kids in, our oldest was in a serious growth spirt and we had NO shoes to sift through.
Yep. Payless. Let’s go.
Sidenote: you will NEVER catch me buying shoes of a certain amount for my children who probably won’t stop growing until maybe the time they leave my house. It’s truly a waste. Besides, by that time, they’ll be working to put forth money for some of their own attire 😉
At Payless, our oldest picks the loudest, most sports-looking shoe with the brightest eyes and biggest smile. I cringed, looked at my husband and said “… these?? *sigh* Okay.” While buying the shoes, I was inwardly freaking out. I mean, florescent orange with gray were NOT what his wardrobe consisted of. I don’t want my son looking lost or like he had a mom who didn’t care! Of course, none of this mattered to him because ever since that day, he’s worn these shoes every.single.day (except Sundays) It doesn’t matter what colors he’s matched with his clothes… he slips these shoes on and attacks the day. He doesn’t care. And now I can honestly say… neither do I.
Could we afford to buy him some “browns and blacks”/neutral shoes? At the time, sure. Now? Mm maybe and probably will soon as his frame extends itself, but there’s a bigger lesson being taught by my son I’m still learning. In wearing those bright shoes to the end of their lifespan (and other items he loves without regard), my son has reminded me of what I had forgotten just four years ago and even deeper… the powerful lesson of (humble) simplicity. You see, there hasn’t been one day he’s complained of wearing the same shoes. Not one day. I have though. Out loud. In my head. In my heart. Fortunately, he has no grasp of what shoes (or clothes) supposedly say about a person because honestly, they’re not supposed to say much of anything. Yet, we as parents… as people… have placed emphasis on objects worn than character seen and THEN we wonder why our children grow up to feel entitled to have things more than they want God. Will our oldest son always be this simple? I don’t know as I daily battle against what society shows and tells him, but I’m praying with all of God’s heart he will.
I realize now what God is teaching me has to continue with the other two not just through our oldest but through me as well. “Coincidentally”, due to a series of unfortunate recent events (like spit up on leather boots *smh*), I too now wear the same pair of shoes. I wore them a lot before but I really have no choice now. So, they’re on my feet. Every. single. day. Yes it’s inconvenient and frustrating when I want to wear certain things, especially in 30 degree weather. Will I get my boots cleaned and/or buy some more shoes? Eventually, but I still see a little greedy image in my heart so maybe not too soon. But really? I’ve come to love my little gray shoes not just because they’re comfortable and easy but because they’ve become my constant reminder of God who gave me a son whose taste in shoes teaches me daily the beauty of simplicity… the beauty of freedom.