Kind of warms the heart, doesn’t it? No. Perhaps that’s not the right way to put it. I saw the little photo of a pair of shoes the other day and stopped to read the text. Heartwarming isn’t the way I would describe my reaction.
My first thought was that I was going to feel sympathy for the person who wrote the sentence. But the gotcha phrase at the end made me laugh.
Ha! Just another touchy-feely sentimental moment turned into a joke.
I shared the picture with my friends, and went about my day. But, something made me go back to the photo again. And again.
Somehow, I wasn’t laughing anymore. Sad. That’s the way I began to feel inside.
The simple fact is, the event described is exactly the kind of thing that usually ruins my day. Oh, I don’t necessarily mean that I’ve got bad socks, but I’m saying that minor inconveniences visible to no one but me are the catalysts for more bad moods than anyone will ever know.
They’re kind of a big thing. For me, anyway. Maybe for you, too.
All day long, the slightly too-small shirt I put on this morning keeps pulling out at the waist. Each time I reach for something on my work bench, or stretch overhead to put in a light bulb, or bend over to pick up that penny I dropped while making change, the shirt tail, without any warning at all is hanging over my belt.
I hate that!
And, nobody cared. In fact, none of you knew it was happening. Not even the Lovely Lady.
I feel bad mentioning this at all. Sort of. It pales beside other issues.
One of my new author friends mentioned some serious personal life events in a note she wrote to me today. Beyond serious, they have been catastrophic. After that, it seems awfully silly for me to focus on the trivial and the mundane.
But, we live life as it happens. The catastrophic events come. For some, they last for many years—perhaps never to pass from our experience. Dealing with and responding to them is paramount.
Still, the minuscule events come too, annoying and chipping away at our patience. I wonder if they will also someday be a part of the record of how we responded and carried on in our walk here on this sphere of water and dirt.
The world keeps spinning. We keep walking with the socks bunched up in our shoes. Discomfort, inconveniences, and annoyances pile up.
You know I’m not really thinking about cheap socks now, right?
Who are we—really—when the trivial, the mundane, problems of life begin to wear on us? How do we treat our fellow travelers?
When I have big problems—the kind everyone can see—it’s not all that hard to keep my footing, relationally speaking. Folks treat me with deference, the kid glove treatment we’ve all heard of. All the warning signs are obvious and even I can remember to exercise self-control in dealing with others.
But, what about when my shoe comes untied?
Walking along the trail, side by side with the Lovely Lady, I don’t even notice it for awhile. Oh, I know something is not quite right, but it really doesn’t matter.
I keep walking. We keep talking.
Little by little, the brain becomes aware of the problem. Finally, in a moment of epiphany, I realize my foot is sliding around in my shoe.
And just like that, I am angry.
Well, who wouldn’t be? The person by my side, the woman who stood beside me at an altar all those years ago and promised to love and help me, won’t slow down. My shoe is untied and she keeps striding along like there is nothing wrong.
My shoe is untied!
“Slow down!” I snap.
She looks at me in surprise. Just a moment ago, we were enjoying our outing in the beauty of God’s creation. Nothing has changed, to her mind. There is no reason she would have seen my predicament.
My world, on the other hand, is turned upside down. Of course, she instantly slows to a stop and waits while I kneel down and make the necessary adjustments.
But the damage has been done.
I’ve spent a lot of words on feet, haven’t I? Perhaps you already realize the feet aren’t the problem. The heart is.
We’re a self-centered lot, aren’t we? Oh, we talk a good game, pretending to care more about others than ourselves, but let just one little personal issue flare up and no one matters in the world besides ourselves. Nothing is more important in that moment than our comfort.
God is working on my heart problem. I’m trying to let Him. You see, the Apostle who loved letter-writing passed on the words God had for me long ago:
You can’t be looking at your own problems, but need to be focusing on what those around you need. Think like He did, the God-man who gave up everything so you could have everything.
As He’s working on my heart problem, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind waiting up while I tie my shoe.
I’d like to walk beside you for awhile.
You can pull up your socks if you need to.
I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle.
(Jane Austen ~ British novelist ~ 1775-1817)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each of you the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2: 3,4)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.