Hey look mom, No Shoes!

 

I wanted to share with you my lenten experience.  Not to boast but to invite more people into my life and into my journey.  It was quite an interesting 6 weeks.

I gave up shoes for Lent. It was something that came into my mind as something much simpler last summer.  A friend had been talking about Tom’s shoes and their national “Day without Shoes.” Or something like that.  At first I just thought, wow that would be really cool to do next year, I am going to look into it.  But God had something else planned for it.  The idea grew and grew in my head and wouldn’t get out.  I began to wonder what it would be like to go longer.  And probably in December it came into my head to do it for Lent.  But I will be honest, I think I laughed it off right away.  I thought, no way, I go to the store all the time, I will be traveling, I work on construction sites and live on gravel roads, not gonna happen.  But it wouldn’t leave.  I just thought and thought about it.  As Lent approached and I began to look more for what I needed to sacrifice, I couldn’t find anything else that would tug at my heart besides the shoes.  So I went with it.

Lol, I laugh now.  The first three or four days were miserable.  It was freezing cold out and usually raining.  It was the perfect start.  I have discovered some very practical stuff while living without shoes.  My feet are not as tough to temperature as the rest of my body.  If it was too cold, they would hurt every time I stepped, even though they were numb, if it was too hot it felt like a bunch of needles poking into them(like that feeling when they fall asleep).  Oooh, and the gravel was awful.  smaller rocks worse than bigger ones.  Rain was not so bad, if it wasn’t cold out.  It allowed me to wash my feet before coming inside so my feet weren’t black by the end of the day.  Pavement was nice, for about a day and then it felt like sandpaper and it rubbed any callouses off my feet.  I couldn’t be as active.  I couldn’t play basketball for too long or blisters would spring up.  Ultimate frisbee was fine on grass, unless I had been working all day and my feet were already raw.  I couldn’t run.  I had to walk very slow if I was to make it to my house without too much pain.

Somethings I enjoyed without shoes: I could tell when there were imperfections in the floor I was walking on and helped whenever we were redoing carpets in some of the rooms.  The feeling of wet clay on them was beautiful.  I never had to tie anything in the morning and could literally get out of bed and walk outside right away if I wanted.   I love the freedom, my feet were never constricted and always felt so free.  Many times I enjoyed walking slower because it gave me time to think and reflect.

As Lent went on the struggles became much more internal than external.  There were only a couple times that I acually was tempted to put on shoes but besides that, the struggles weren’t in that area.  It was more of how I reacted towards other people through this journey.  Usually every morning, I had enough rest off my feet for it to be okay, but by the afternoon the pain and annoyances would get to me.  I struggled being around people.  Slowly throughout the day I would get more tired of my feet, and I would begin to focus on any pains or aches or I would have to focus extra hard to keep them from getting hurt and all this pulled me away from my focus on other people.  It is weird, I was becoming more and more selfish the longer I did not have shoes.  I didn’t want to serve, or to move much, or I wanted to go to bed early all the time.  It just got so annoying that I would rather stay inside with my feet up rather than walk down to the Lodge to interact with people.  It was a fight everyday to love others through these pains and aches.

About two weeks ago, the entire community got together and shared what had been happening in our hearts.  At the time I didn’t know why but I shared how tired I was.  Tired of trying to love.  After that meeting, I began to pray much more into this feeling and discern the root of it.  There are plenty of reasons why I felt that way, but a huge one was this Lenten journey I was on.  God was teaching me something.  He was teaching me about physical pain and the decision to love through it.  The decision to actually choose joy.   God was pointing out a big sin of mine, one of comfort.  I tend to love only when I feel comfortable.  Physically and mentally.  That is not what God is wanting from me.  He wants me to love most when I am uncomfortable.  The last couple weeks of easter were slightly different.  I still failed a lot but I began to see the moments when I chose comfort over love and began to actively fight those moments.  I would choose to take a harder way home or invited more people into a conversation about my Lent.  I tried remedying relationship with people that I had rejected because of my desire for comfort.  It was a blessed ending to a very hard Lent.

Since it has been over I have been so incredibly grateful to have something on my feet.  It is such a blessing to be living in a country where I have access to this comfort and I am trying not to take it for granted.  Love you all and God Bless.

Paul Devine

LoveStrong

 

All in all, the Lent was the best I have been through.  Made better because I felt that God had specifically called me to it.  I am wearing shoes right now and I have yet to experience a day in which I haven’t thought “whew, I am so glad for my shoes.”

 

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