Most of my life is an open book. You know when I've baked too much, what I wear on my feet, and how really really ridiculous my dog is. But one of the reasons I started this was to be more open about my actual self, not just the witty, self-depreciating, creating-addicted self. To give more voice to the me that I felt few people knew.
So I did that for a while. I shared what was on my heart, even when it was ugly or worrisome or embarrassing. And then lately, I've been avoiding it. Really, ever since I got back from PA. Heck, maybe even before I left. But purposefully, I've been avoiding my heart ever since PA.
|Oh, lovely PA...|
The trip was fantastic, and I got to see so many friendly faces. The love they poured out for me & D'man and this bambino was overwhelming. And then, Sunday morning, I went to church. The sermon was on... something. Something about not hoarding. I was paying attention, don't get me wrong, but I was also just basking in the feeling of being in the place where I had grown up in my faith. Just enjoying it. Then came the wrap-up. Pastor T, he said something to the effect of, "How do you apply this? How does this actually impact your life? Well I'm glad you asked." and he went on to say that, while most of us struggle with a storage issue - too much stuff, there are those not too very far away that struggle because they have nothing.
Let's just say, he had my attention.
Then he said that winter was coming, and up in PA, it gets cold. He had been in contact with some homeless organizations, and they named a lack of shoes and coats as their chief problem for winter. So today, prepared or not, they would be collecting our coats and shoes. If you wanted to give them. If you could give them. If God so moved you to give them.
I looked at my feet. At my boots. I loved my boots. Of course I had worn my boots, my most favoritest footwear. When you're only home 3 times a year, you sort of dress-to-impress, so everyone will know that all is well in your world. I looked at my coat, folded on my lap. My White House Black Market trench coat that someone had just complimented me on and I'd felt proud to wear. For a moment, I wished I'd worn my worn-out flats and a sweatshirt.
|Mine are on the right.|
Oh, my sins. My pride. My love of things. Idol worship, I believe it's called. I felt wretched.
I can rationalize it, and say that I loved my boots because they reminded me of when Dante bought them for me. When we didn't have much money, but he saved and took me on a surprise shopping trip to a boot store that ended up being closed, so we had to google another one. We got the boots, and I was so excited. Then we went out to eat to a roadhouse of some sort, because that's what you do when you're wearing cowboy boots. We went to the rodeo that weekend, and I finally had on the appropriate footwear. It was one of the best birthdays. I could say that that memory is the reason that I hesitated, but as you see, I can keep that memory without keeping the boots, so that excuse is bogus.
Then God reminded me that I had asked for this. I had read J-Hat's book, Interrupted, and really felt drawn to the way she had given away her boots. I thought, "Wow, I'd like to give away my boots. Too bad no one is asking for them." *insert ironic moment here* I had asked God for more hands-on opportunities to love people the way he loves them. To feed the hungry and clothe the naked and stand up for the orphan and the widow. I asked for this. And now I had an opportunity. I remember the distinct feeling that God wasn't going to be ticked off if I didn't do it. It was my choice.
I was briefly distracted from my boot issue by thinking about my coat. This was a whole different matter. Yes, I felt a bit of pride in my nice coat, but honestly, I only wore it a few times per year. I knew I didn't need my coat, I had a warmer one at home. The delay in this arena was brought on by the disbelief that my coat would do anyone any good. I suppose its fair to say that I doubted God could use my fancy-yet-flimsy coat to reach someone on the streets of Pittsburgh.
I realized that all of this had very little to do with my boots or my jacket. Honestly, in the moment, I felt it all had very little to do with the homeless. God wanted my heart, my obedience, my full attention. I sat there and cried. The phrases that kept going through my head was, "But I love my boots. Dante gave me these boots. I love what these boots mean." But still the question sat there: Would I give God my most precious ...footwear? It seems so ridiculous now, but at the same time, can I confess to you that I miss my boots?
After a bit, a friend of mine leaned over and asked if I needed to pray about something. I shook my head and asked her to please just get me out of my seat so I could give my boots. It wasn't something that I necessarily wanted to do. I felt no happiness about the matter, although it was my intention to give with a cheerful heart. I was grateful at the opportunity, I just very much disliked the cost.
I laid my boots up there on that altar. I came back, in my neon pink racing socks, and emptied my coat pockets and took it up there too. I don't know what use either of those pieces were. I don't know if they were worn by some grateful soul or hocked to make a few bucks. The end result is out of my hands, and I don't know that it makes me feel better imagining either outcome. The important part to me was that I had obeyed, that I had responded to the call to give.
I say none of this to point a blinking sign at my actions or accept accolades. In fact, I'd prefer you not offer any (in case you were prepping your congratulatory comment as you read), and I'll likely delete one if you leave it. I am a wretch, and feel far too much attachment to a pair of shoes, when the Almighty God offered up His precious Son for me. I didn't really want to share this, either, as it is easier to keep it in secret, and perhaps it should have stayed there.
But I think it changed me, even just a bit. Once it was over with, whenever sadness would rise up at the thought of my non-boot-clad feet, I'd ask God to please work in my heart, that this gift would not be without some difference in me. I'm still waiting to see where God leads next, what next opportunity He will present me with. Hopefully I can respond to it without nearly as much ugly-crying. So that's what my heart has been hiding, what I haven't shared. I want the opportunity to do more - to love more, to feed more, to give more, and am only starting to realize that such a call will not be without some sacrifice on my part. I'm praying for equal parts opportunity and courage. And now you know.