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Now I See

I got shoes

I got shoes.
You got shoes.
All God’s children got shoes….
I was talking to Salaama today about a loved one who, we think, is missing a great opportunity. Why is he hesitating over a prospect that seems so ideal, we wondered? Was it fear? Ego? Wisdom? We don’t know—we can’t know—what keeps him from making a move. All we know is that he is a grown man, making his own choices. He must have his reasons, we reminded ourselves.

“I guess I could afford to put myself in his shoes,” Salaama said, wisely. We agreed that doing so was a sure way to conjure up compassion and push judgment aside. And thinking about things from other people’s point of view almost certainly adds value to your relationship with them.

But I told her that I realized that I sometimes spent so much time worrying about what's happening in other folks’ shoes, that I don’t pay enough attention to what’s happening in my own. 

If you’re a wife, a mother or a caretaker of any kind, you probably know the feeling. You’re constantly considering the needs of the people you love. Not just what they need in the moment, but what they’re going to need, what they might need.

To some degree that comes with the territory. But what happens when it goes beyond the family schedule?

It wasn't that long ago that it hit me that I was thinking about everybody else’s career choices and health needs and financial concerns—but paying very little to my own. What was my plan for the future? Where was my next check coming from? How was I fulfilling my reason for being? Is urging someone else to move and grow really the source of my own movement and growth? I don’t want to look up one day and realize that I’ve spent all my energy worrying about other folks’ choices—choices I can’t control anyway—and have done nothing to further my own purpose for being on the planet.

My mother’s father, a poor man with ten children to clothe and feed, insisted on “good shoes”—sturdy soles and high-quality leather—for them all. And he insisted that those hard-earned shoes be well taken care of. I remember my own Daddy sitting down on Saturday nights to wax and polish our shoes for Sunday morning and the rest of the week. These are the people who taught me that taking care of your soles is a good investment. It think they would say that taking care of your own soul is, too.

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