(As I wrote this post, I was struck by the fact that many of our family and friends back home in the Carolinas are still caught in the throes of Hurricane Florence. From power outages and downed trees to catastrophic flooding, so many in our home state are in need. We may be 1200 miles away, but you are on our hearts, and we are praying for you all.)
Lately, there have been a lot of things for me to get sentimental about. We’re coming up on two years since our journey began, two years since I left my job at our church. This coming Tuesday marks one year since I started with my company, and we were able to seriously believe we were really where we were supposed to be. Yeah, lots to wax nostalgic about, but I gotta admit, I didn’t think my boy’s shoes would be one of them.
Those green shoes were handed down to my son from his best friend in NC. He was so proud of them. They were the best of all colors, as far as Si is concerned: green. They were his buddy’s, you know! It was like he had Superman’s cape! He wanted to wear them long before his little feet could stay in them.
And wear them he did. All. The. Time.
Today, he tried to put them on, and he was complaining that they were hurting his feet. I reached down to check how much room he had in them, and understood quickly why they hurt him: they were about a size too small. How in the world he’s worn them at all, I don’t know. I convinced him to try on another pair he will surely outgrow too fast, and reluctantly he did. Amanda gave me a look and motioned to throw them away when he wasn’t looking. Before I did that, I had to take that pic.
My son did all the countless things little boys do in those shoes, back home in NC, here in OK, and everywhere in between. Running, jumping, climbing, stomping, falling…those shoes took him on adventures, and they have the scars to show for it. He used to ride this little push bike and drag his feet to stop, wearing out the inner toes on each shoe. The soles were almost smooth from constant wear. They looked so bad he knew not to ask if he could wear them on Sundays. (Dude told me God didn’t care about his clothes. I told him he was right, God didn’t care, but his mom sure does!)
As I looked at that picture, I stare at the cold, hard fact of my son growing up. I see the inevitable march of time. I see the change that comes in all stages of life, to all of us. Like all good things, like everything in life, I knew those shoes would wear out, or be outgrown. I’m honestly amazed they held together long enough for his feet to get too big. I just didn’t realize it would be so fast.
Such a simple thing, yet one I truly wasn’t ready for. Part of me wanted to hide them away, keep them for posterity. I told Amanda we should bronze them. Do people still do that?
Yet it’s foolish to try to hold onto the past, though we foolishly try. What’s done is done. Those few years of wearing out those shoes produced memories I’ll cherish as long as my mind lasts, and that should be enough. The rips and scuffs on those shoes chronicle the progress of my boy across the days of his young life, just like the scars and bruises on you and me. Some were hard bought, some were earned through falls and trips, and some were just from putting one foot in front of the other.
They brought us to where we are now. We can’t go back. We shouldn’t go back.
Two years ago, there were a LOT of scriptures that the Holy Spirit used to confirm, to Amanda and me both, that things were changing, that something new was coming. Isaiah 42 and 43 became constant companions to us.
“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Isaiah 42:9)
Funny how we could have multiple reminders, over and over, that God was doing a new thing, and yet, over and over, we would pine for things to be like they once were.
Like my boy putting on his “new” pair of Addidas today (he’s had them forever and wouldn’t wear them, except reluctantly to church), sometimes you have to let go of the old and pick up the new. It might not be as comfortable, definitely not as broken-in as what you had, but give it time. That new thing might just become your favorite pair of shoes.
And who knows where those might take you.