I looked down at the floor today, which I tend to do quite a lot, and saw an old worn pair of brown leather shoes. To any other person they’re just old or cute or whatever, but I see so much more than a pair of shoes. I see a lifetime of memories. I see bright sunny days, smiles and laughter. I feel the warmth of a love that could last me the rest of my life. I smell monkey-bread, coffee, and dinner in the oven. I see my father with his arms wrapped around my mother and his eyes always on her.
I see more than an old pair of shoes. Once upon a time they were worn by a woman of the most noble character. A wife, mother, missionary. In the life of a Christian woman she had lived the dream. Married to a man of God, raised three children to fear and love the God of the universe, and she herself had fallen in love with the Savior of her soul.
I call her, Mom.
She was a woman I could never explain in full, of my pride and love to call her, Mother. I called her by that name often. I walked directly behind those shoes near to every day of seven years of my life. I know those shoes. I know their every movement. I know their every path. I know how they danced, they walked, they served. I should know, I mimicked their every stirring.
It has been fourteen years today since those shoes ever graced her servant’s feet. It took me ten to fit into them. It took another four to bring myself to place them on my feet. I looked down this morning and saw an old worn pair of shoes, at least, I know that’s all you’ll ever see, but I see much much more. I see my most cherished memories, (no matter how small), and all my hopes. I see a woman who lived a life for the Holy One and therefore found favor in his eyes and in the eyes of the down-trodden.
Today I spoke at my old elementary school (Gateway Christian School) where my mother and father had both spoken when I was a child. Fifteen years ago, I was in first grade and my parents came to chapel to speak on what it truly means to be a Christian. I gave that very same speech this morning. I couldn’t think of a better way for my life to come full circle. I had once sat in those chairs and watched my parents share about the grace of God and the promise of secured salvation. My mother, with her very real and secure salvation, met the Lord the following year. Fourteen years later, at the age of 21, on March 14th, 2013, I spoke at chapel with the same message. Talk about the circle of life…
So when I looked down this morning, I didn’t just see a pair of old shoes. I saw something very different.
I see the woman I want to be.
One day I’ll put her shoes away again. I’ll put them in a box with a letter she wrote to me as a child. On that day I’ll look in the mirror and see something I can’t see yet. I’ll finally see a woman of noble character. I’ll allow myself to see the woman I’m meant to be. I’ll have earned the honor of being her child. I’ll have earned the right to pass the shoes on.
I’ll be a woman of noble character for my grief has become my strength.
My heartache has made me whole.
“For men are not cast off
by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show
so great is his unfailing love.
For he does not willingly bring
or grief to the children of men.”