Why Can’t I Buy You Shoes?

I waited upstairs while my husband was crowned. Temporarily, that is. He will get his “permanent” crown in a month. While he is always royalty to me, my husband’s new crown was actually bestowed on him by our dentist.

Yeah, not as much fun as a jeweled crown.

Upstairs in the food court, I worked on my computer during the two hour “dental crowning” wait. I found a cozy sofa area on the perimeter of the food court, and as I typed I overheard lively conversation. Strangers introduced themselves to each other as they sat across from one another and then engaged in spirited talks about current and challenging political situations. The conversation was certainly entertaining. I mused over the possibility of visiting food courts and coffee shops around the country–while writing about the conversations I might hear and people I would meet. People are fascinating. Everyone has their own story, and it’s weird/amazing to think that each individual is living the details of his/her life as specifically as I am. Yet God created us all—and longs for a relationship with each one of us. That reality supersedes my thought capacity—it’s in a dimension beyond my capability to process.

I took one small break downstairs after a shoe store caught my eyes. I thought of the brown boots I “needed” and took a quick look at the store’s inventory. However, I don’t like really like to shop, so soon talked myself out of spending money on something I really didn’t need. (Besides, I didn’t see THE brown boots.) So, I went back to my sofa-turned-workspace.

Then–he walked by, revealing a slight shuffle in his stride. I first noticed him because I smelled him. He had obviously gone without a shower for a while. His coat was tattered. His shoes looked like those belonging to a clown. The upper parts of his shoes flapped, displaying their disconnection to the soles. I wondered about his story. He was likely homeless, and my heart saddened as I observed his look of “lostness.” Perhaps he was as disconnected from his soul as were his shoes from their “soles.” Had he lost his family? Endured a tragedy? Lost a job? Suffered in war? I don’t know. However, I did know it was cool and rainy outside, and his feet would surely stay cold and wet as they were.why-cant-i-buy-you-shoes

I remembered the shoe store downstairs, got up and quickened my pace so I could walk beside him. I didn’t want to startle him, so spoke quietly ensuring that no one else could hear.  “Sir, I see that your shoes have holes in them and it’s rainy and cool outside. Could I please buy you some shoes?

He looked down and quickly shuffled away as he said, “no.”  I watched out of the corner of my eyes as he found a chair and adjusted his shoes and socks. I felt badly for noticing them, as I wondered if I had caused him embarrassment. He then proceeded to a food counter but quickly walked away. I tried to sneak ahead so I could prepay, but he eluded me, seemingly on purpose.

Seeing he did not want my “help,” I gave up and prayed for him. Why wouldn’t he let me help? Why couldn’t I buy him shoes?

I’ll never know. I felt sad. I know I can become too easily discouraged when my offers to help aren’t received. How about you? I like to “fix” broken shoes, broken dreams, and broken hearts. However, I can not. I can’t fix anyone (I’m busy enough working on myself), but I can point every one to the only one who can fill their soul–and who is the lover of their soul.

5  Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
6  He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7  My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8  Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. 
 (Psalm 62:5-8)

God sees our shame, our broken dreams, our fears, our longings. He sees our disconnection and comes beside us as if to ask, “Can I buy you some shoes?” It would be wise (and warmer and dryer) to answer yes, but it is tempting to respond the same way as the man I met today…and elusively shuffle away. Maybe we are ashamed, maybe we aren’t sure we can trust him, or maybe we are just too busy walking to hear his offer.

I know when I feel fearful, I can fail to notice God walking beside me, longing to connect to the deep recesses of my soul. I pray I won’t be elusive, but will quickly and decisively (and figuratively) say, “Why yes, I’d love new shoes.”


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  1. Kitty

    Your writing always stirs my heart and I am grateful for the privilege of still feeling near you in the words you express. Love, Kitty

    • jeanieshaw

      Hi Kitty.Thank you. So great to hear from you. I love you and Bud so much. 🙂

  2. Kim Pullen

    Sometimes I think I can accept God’s offer for new shoes, but I don’t like the ones he’s offering me. I want the pretty sandals and he wants to provide the boots to carry me through the cold and rain. I need to trust his wisdom more than my desires.

    • jeanieshaw

      So true for me as well. Thanks so much for all your writing and sharing.


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About Jeanie Shaw

After retiring from forty-five years in full-time ministry, Jeanie Shaw went back to school to earn her master’s and doctorate in spiritual formation and discipleship. She also serves as a certified Christian life coach who loves helping people discover the joy, peace, and purpose that come from finding and following God’s plan for their lives. She has taught classes and workshops all over the world and has written numerous books. She has four grown children, eight grandchildren, and a golden retriever who thinks he is human. When she is not reading, writing, coaching, teaching, or enjoying her family she might be found walking along rivers, learning new lessons about life.

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