Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stepping into My Own Shoes

When my oldest daughter was preparing to move into her college dorm as a freshman in the early 80's, we had so much fun putting her wardrobe together.  We bought some pretty outfits, I made a few clothes for her by hand and on one shopping trip, we found the cutest lavender boots.  They resembled cowboy boots, but were a pinkish-purple suede with a cool feminine design on them.  She was so excited!  We got her all settled in and then school started.

Sadly, it wasn't long before she was reprimanded by school authorities for wearing those adorable boots.  This was only the first of several hurtful criticisms about her appearance. She was finally told she needed to blend into the crowd and "be like the other girls."

My sweet daughter was full of creativity and imagination. She wasn't overbearing at all, nor did she dress immodestly.  She just had a sun-shiny, fun outlook on life and she loved expressing her personality by wearing pretty things. But somehow this did not go over well in the straight-laced environment of her Bible college campus. By insisting she stop wearing her lavender boots some members of the administration were indirectly asking her to step into someone else's shoes.

Over the years, I've come to realize I spent much of my own life trying to fit into someone else's shoes.  It was like I had a whole closet full of shoes, some of them were really gorgeous, but none of them were mine.  And all of them felt uncomfortable. By ignoring my own individuality and trying hard to blend into the crowd,  I wasn't trying to be the best me I could be. So I became dissatisfied with who I was, shutting down emotions and natural expressions of my personality. One look at the  fabulous and diverse creation surrounding us should be enough to show us the Creator never intended that we all be just alike.  How boring is that?  We each have a mixture of distinctive natural traits and specific talents not to be denied that make us unique.

What it took for me to wake up was realizing (1) God created me to be me; (2) I have value in his eyes the way he made me and (3) I have a purpose for being on this earth.  An in depth study of Jesus, revealing how he, with great care,  singled people out in a crowd, gave them visibility and validated their existence opened my eyes.  Why would he bother to create the fascinating and multi-faceted human race if our lives were meant to be blah, meaningless, colorless and without individual purpose and impact?

I'm happy to report my adult daughter now figuratively wears her infamous "lavender boots" any time she wants.  And her own daughter, my newly-married granddaughter, thankfully has never had to struggle to "fit into her own shoes."  I think I've discovered my own particular version of "lavender boots" as it were and and am finally convinced it's OK to wear them.  I'm now enjoying figuring out how to be the best me I can be, not at the expense of others, but for the sake of others.  So step into those shoes, whether they're worn-out running shoes or sparkly five-inch heels or both.  Just make sure they're yours and they fit and enjoy being the best you you can be!

My daughter with her own daughter who most assuredly steps into
 her own shoes, usually sparkly ones....