When I was a little girl going to junior high for the first time growing up in the 80’s, I had to buy a new pair of shoes. This might not sound like a big deal, but it was to me. I had to find the “perfect” pair. Why? Because I could only afford to own one pair of everyday shoes.
I had to locate the best “good enough” shoes for the lowest price. I’d walk the entire mall, search every store on every level, and scour every sale rack to find the cheapest, best shoes. It was a lot of work and very stressful. I was afraid to commit to a pair until I’d shopped the whole mall. I’d feel anxiety, fearing the pair I spotted earlier might be snagged by another shopper. Sometimes, this sense of dread led me to commit questionable clandestine acts, like hiding shoes in different racks or splitting up a pair, to leave it orphaned and passed over.
I finally told my mom I found a pair of brown wedges that had the blue dot sticker for $7.99. I thought it was perfect with a pretty pinhole stitching design on the toe box. I imagined how cute it’d look with my jeans and puffy sweater. When we returned to the store, however, my mom pulled a blue pair of flats with a bow stuck in front from the $5.99 rack.
“Here, this pair is better,” she said. She stuck it out to me, like a stalk of celery she wanted to place into the plastic bag I’d have open for her whenever we went grocery shopping.
“But I like this pair, Mom.” I showed her all the features to plead my case.
“That doesn’t look so good. It’s common-looking. Why do you want to be like everyone else?” she questioned me. The shoes that looked so good a minute ago suddenly felt clunky and awkward in my hands.
I tried again, “The blue makes the shoes look like plastic. And that bow . . . ” My true feelings tumbled out. I don’t want to wear blue shoes, Mom.
“I think they look fine,” my mom said. “Don’t get those other ones. They look cheap on you.”
I went home that night, trying to tell myself the whole night – and the whole school year – my blue shoes were fine. But the truth was it wasn’t fine. I wasn’t fine.
I wasn’t confident walking down hallways between lockers. Although I told myself I ought to be thankful for my shoes, deep inside, I felt uncomfortable with myself. I wasn’t free to learn to find my own way, by making choices that aligned with who God made me, with my unique likes and dislikes. I incorrectly learned that obedience and love meant to hide my true self. I felt ashamed of my desires and my need to belong.
But God’s love is different. God’s cares about our emotional well-being. He values our needs and desires.
Just like Ruth never expected she would find a Boaz while gathering leftovers in the fields for Naomi, you are not forgotten. God hears the dream you dare to whisper in private.
God recently brought this memory of my blue shoes to surface as I thought about the new year and what I want to do. God wants us to know He sees that deep inside us, we all need love and words of affirmation.
Have you been thinking about the new year too? Maybe like me, you’re tempted to not hope for too much. Maybe you’re telling yourself to keep going in survival mode and not rock the boat with your dreams or your need for rest, peace, comfort, or joy.
As women, we often put our hearts to the side, but God sees beyond all we do and sees the deeper, beautiful things we long for, hide, and need. You are His beloved and all you hide in your heart is precious to our loving Savior.
God sees and loves your true self. He sees what you dream about and hope for. God understands what you’ve endured and what you’ve lost. He cares about your need for belonging and joy. God cares about your well-being.
So, as you look into the new year, prioritize nurturing your soul. See Jesus standing next to you, folding your hand tenderly into His as He whispers, You are worth loving.
I have loved you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3 (NASB)
How can you take better care of yourself in the new year?
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God sees beyond all we do and sees the deeper, beautiful things we long for, hide, and need. - @thebonniegray: Click To Tweet