She was tall, exotic, and everything I wasn’t. Even her name was interesting. Eighteen letters, eight syllables.
She had a pair of silver shoes, ballet flats that she wore with sparkly sweaters. I suppose a part of me thought that some Wizard of Oz magic would transform me into her, or at least not me, if I slipped a pair of those silver shoes on my own feet. I nagged, begged, and groveled for weeks. My mother finally relented and bought me a pair of silver flats exactly like hers.
I proudly wore the shoes for the rest of the school year, but I never talked to her.
A few years after graduation, I walked into a college history class and saw her there. She smiled and waved at me to sit by her. She called me by name. I didn’t even know she knew my name. She was dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans. No silver shoes — only sneakers. Her thick, wavy hair was pulled back in a casual ponytail, a far cry from the perfectly-coiffed bob she always wore in middle school. I hardly recognized her at first glance, but when I did, my first thought was that I was so very glad to see her.
After a round of small talk during which we touched on the highlights of our post-graduation lives and our future plans, she asked me why I never talked to her in school. I told her the only thing I could — the truth. She was popular. I was the exact opposite of popular. And then, she said something that I will never forget.
“I always wanted to get to know you, but I thought you wanted nothing to do with me.”
In the Gospels, Jesus has a word for non-risk-takers like me, the types who wear the shoes but forget why they wanted them in the first place.
Not my favorite word. It’s harsh, and the connotation is not even a little bit favorable. There are so many other prettier, safer ones.
hypocrite (n.) from Greek hypokrites “stage actor, pretender, dissembler”. (Courtesy Etymonline.com)
And what about what Jesus says next? I can hardly bear to go there.
Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. — Matthew 15:7-8 NIV
My motives are pure. I want to walk the walk. I just want to do it in sparkly sweaters. I want to carry myself with poise. I want my hair to be perfectly coiffed. And yes, please, I want to wear the silver shoes. And please, for heaven’s sake, don’t make me get personal.
Some little gods are cast in gold. Mine just happen to be silver.
First, take off the shoes. Only then can you truly walk with Me.