This morning I woke up around 6:15 A. M. I live in Massachusetts. Yes, our autumns are beautiful. But it can also be cold in September. So I put on my slippers. I will unabashedly admit that I am a slipper guy. I don’t mind being cold, but I HATE having cold feet (no pun intended). After completing my morning routine I strapped on my biking shoes. You know, the ones that clip into bike pedals. I live about three miles from work, so I bike whenever I can. After showering in the school’s locker room facility I slipped on my dress shoes. I wore my brown ones today. It’s Tuesday. I reserve the black shoes and black belt combination for Friday’s and weddings.
I guess you could say my black shoes are my Sunday best. These brown ones? Well, they’re my Wednesday best.
After work I pop off the dress shoes and put the biking shoes back on. On Tuesday my wife and I try to be “active.” Often this means going for a walk or going to the gym. Today we are going to play tennis. We’re equally terrible. I guess we are a good match. After a few moments of frantically trying to find my tennis shoes (where I’m from “tennis shoes” is a catchall phrase for any sneaker that isn’t a work boot, sports cleat or ice skate) I located them in our closet buried beneath my old basketball shoes.
We returned from tennis, had dinner and settled in for the night. I usually try to check my email once or twice before I call it a night. At 7:52 P.M. I received this email from Wendy:
“While I was home this summer, mom told me a story about a young boy who used to wear shoes made mostly of duct tape. One rainy, muddy day, he was given a used pair of sneakers. At the end of the school day, he took them off, put them in his backpack and put on his duct-taped shoes. When he was asked about why he didn’t wear the new shoes that didn’t leak, he said they were too good to get dirty. When I saw your Facebook note, I thought of this ministry right away.”
About a week later, I received some additional information on this story from a woman that knows this boy personally.
“The story about the boy with the duct-taped shoes is true and the ‘new’ shoes he got that day were used shoes, but he was so happy to have those shoes that when school let out, that day it was raining, he didn’t want to walk home in his new shoes. He had told the principal that morning that he needed to keep his old ones. She didn’t understand why at the time, but that evening she saw him change his new shoes for the old ones and put the new ones in his backpack, and when she ask him why he told her his new shoes were too nice to get muddy on the walk home. He lives
in a rural area here in East Tennessee. His walk home was about a mile.
It is so sad to think of children without good shoes and for a lot of the kids
I work with 1 pair is usually all they have.”
Because of the nature of our organization we hear quite a few heart-wrenching stories, but for some reason this young boy stood out to me. For some reason, he was different.
I thought of my tennis shoes, brown dress shoes, black dress shoes and bike shoes. I didn’t necessarily feel guilty for owning these things but rather foolish for taking them for granted. This boy valued these “new” shoes (which were donated used shoes) to such an extent that he continued to wear the duct taped ones to keep his new ones clean.
Even as I write this, Lord, give me a more grateful heart…
Then I got to thinking about how well this boy cared for the thing he was given. Imagine what this boy could do with $100! Then I started thinking, this is why So We Run exists. My prayer for our organization is not that we personally facilitate change but rather that we can equip folks to make the first step in the journey of world-changing. I believe this boy can change the world. Maybe all he needs is a pair of sneakers to wear to school. Maybe this pair of sneakers will offer him just a little bit of dignity—maybe he will feel more confident in school. Maybe. Maybe.
This boy’s Wednesday best was also his Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday best.
Lord, bless this young boy. Affirm in him that he was created precisely the way he is for your purposes.