In 1980 I thought my blue Traxx shoes from Kmart were the coolest shoes I had ever worn. They looked somewhat similar to the popular Nike shoe with the big check mark on the side.
Every year my parents bought me two pair of shoes for school; one pair of dress shoes for the classroom and one pair of sneakers for gym class. My parents always hoped my shoes would last at least 6 months. The blue Traxx didn’t last a month. A small crack quickly began to form across the tread under the ball of my foot. It wasn’t long before the crack was a chasm reaching across the entire sole. Without the budget to purchase new shoes my parents tried gluing them, but that didn’t even hold them together through a single gym class.
I remember the night my dad brought the silver duct tape in from the garage and wrapped my beautiful blue traxx in a very noticeable swath of silver tape. The next day I changed slowly for gym class and walked the dirt road to the baseball field behind our school. It was a hot spring day, the air was dry and still. I was looking down at my shoes as I walked on the road, kicking up a cloud of dust, that settled onto my shoes. The dust covered tape was still clearly visible. My classmates had run up ahead of me to the field. I wondered if they had noticed my shoes. Did they feel sorry for me? Would they make fun of me?
My beautiful shoes were broken.
I looked through the harsh sunlight at the field ahead of me. I had to go to class. I looked down at those ridiculous duct taped shoes and thought, “If I can be happy and proud to wear these shoes, I will be happy no matter what happens in my life.” It was an oath I would never forget.
At 10, I didn’t realize how many “broken shoes” in life I would wear or that I would need more than sheer determination. I thought the lesson on that hot spring day had been about holding my head high and bolstering through. But that isn’t what I had learned.
We all have “broken shoes”—things in life that have scared us or broken our hearts. Finding contentment or gratefulness with what we have gives us the power to thrive on the path of life. I had a choice that day to be defeated and bitter or to appreciate the things I had and to enjoy gym class. Every time I wear “broken shoes” and I choose to thank God for what I have, I gain empathy for others with “broken shoes”, and JOY on the path of life.
Let us choose to walk or run the path of life today with gratefulness to God. Reach out a hand to someone who has fainted along the way; encourage the ones who have slowed down, and run alongside others with a smile. Because really, we all have “broken shoes” in this one wild beautiful road of life.
1 Timothy 6:6-10New International Version (NIV)
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
Author of The Common Hours, available on Amazon.com