The Other Shoes

~written two years ago~

topoftheworld

I am walking alone in the desert. I have thrown my shoes to the side because I am tired of them. Tired of where they take me. Tired of wearing them. Tired of owning them. I am just tired. The pain in my body is great. The constant struggle to not give into discouragement is nearly impossible to conquer. I am weary. Today, I’m giving up.

I walk along the path, twisting and turning in the way I want to go. Leaving my shoes behind, hoping that I can make my own way and leave my problems behind.

Then, I see them—a pair of shoes that look almost new. I run to them, anxious to try them on. Perhaps, they will take me somewhere better. Somewhere easier than where I have been. I put on the seemingly new pair of shoes. They feel too small for my feet, the outside looks new, but the inside is worn. Even lumpy. I adjust the shoes to better fit on my feet. It takes a few times before I get it somewhat right. I adjust them, hoping these shoes take me somewhere better.

As soon as I rise to my feet, the world around me begins to spin. Everything takes a new shape. A blurry mass of trees, then city, then bushes, then people swim before me. Turning. Twisting. Turning. Twisting. Blurry.

Confused. The world stops. I am standing in the middle of a bustling city. The shoes are tight to my feet. I am wearing in a blue dress, standing in the middle of the city. I don’t even know what city I am in, but I am not used to it.

Someone runs into me. I stagger to the right, then get tossed to the left. The city doesn’t seem to breathe. I start walking, holding my arms tight to my body. I am cold. This place is cold and this dress is not warmth.

The shoes take me to a cemetery. I glance at the gravestone in front of me. I read his name and the inscription: “Loving husband and father.” I stare confused at the words and pain I don’t understand floods my heart. Not the physical pain that my body is accustomed to, but indescribable pain, paralyzing pain. I shrink to my knees. I feel someone come up behind me.

“I am so sorry for your loss. Even after time, the pain doesn’t seem to go away.” A lady is speaking these words behind me. I lost my husband a year ago? My thoughts run wild, confused as to why I am here in this city, in this graveyard, with these clothes in front of this gravestone.

I reach to touch the inscription, tracing the letters with my fingers. The lady leaves just as quickly as she comes. The new-looking pair of shoes seem older. The space inside them is tighter. I hear children run up behind me. Two little boys. One hugs me from behind, “Mommy, are we gonna see dad again?” The other boy holds onto my arm. “Don’t cry mommy, of course he will be back. Of course dad is coming back. He always does.”

Clearly, the children holding onto to me do not understand death, surely his mother explained to him that his father was gone. I look at the little boys and hold them close to me. Not sure what to say, and unable to say anything at all.

A man comes to place flowers at the gravestone. “Your husband was a good man. I miss him, always such a loving brother too.” He places his hand on my shoulder. My tears are coming in streams down my face, because I should not be here.These are not my children, the man lying underneath the grass is not mine. This is not my life. Why am I wearing these shoes?

My heart aches for this family, for the loss they have experienced, for the world they are having to face. I know I am not strong enough to face this. I can’t find my shoes that I took off earlier. But I can’t stay here anymore, not with these people, not with this loss. I don’t know how to be a mom to these boys, a friend to this man.

My heart is frantic with fear, beating to find my old pair of shoes. I notice no physical pain is in my body, but the weight of this emotional pain is too much. These shoes are not mine. These shoes are not mine. I listen to the echo, pinching myself, searching, longing for my old shoes.

They are nowhere to be seen. And I just do the only thing I can. I take off the new looking shoes. I  pull them off my feet and set them by the gravestone, hoping that the woman who belongs to this man, to these children will come back to her shoes. Her life. I am hoping that she will once again wear the life that is hers. I know I must get back to mine.Everything loses shape and becomes a blur around me. Turning. Twisting. Turning. Twisting. Blurry.

Relieved. The world stops and I’m back to the desert. I find my shoes and put them on. The pain in my body returns to me in a rush of urgency. And though it is hurting, I am thankful for it. God has covered me in strength for this trial. And I know that when the woman returns to her shoes, His grace will be sufficient and more than enough for her. I was only ever meant to wear these shoes.

Lord, forgive the desperation in which I, at times, run from my own life! The very life You have bestowed to me. I know, I believe that You are able to uphold me, to strengthen me, and to help me walk in these tattered shoes.

******

Previous Posts:

20 & Learning: The Great Gift of Parenthood

Real Women: Did you Miss Someone’s Story?

20 & Learning: I Worship My Pain

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