Updated: Mar 5
Recently, for the second time in 13 years, I had a shoe malfunction while walking with my husband. For the first time, we were in San Francisco for a part business/part leisure trip; my husband had a meeting for his job, and I joined him later for my birthday celebration. We had been enjoying a lovely visit to the city by the bay seeing Russian Hill, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Pacific Coast. We were walking along the water’s edge toward the Golden Gate Bridge; we had the goal of walking the length of the bridge while taking in the view of San Francisco. Before we reached the bridge, the strap of one of my blue sling-back sandals broke. I had a piece of fabric flapping in a steady rhythm as I stepped with my left leg. It was annoying, to say the least, but I was determined to walk the bridge. We had walked to the halfway point heading toward Sausalito when my husband decided that we would not finish the walk. He could see that I labored in my strides. We turned around and headed back toward Frisco to catch a cab back to our hotel. I was thankful for the reprieve, but I was still annoyed.
Last month, my husband and I took another walk at a park near our home when I had a second footwear failure—I lost the heel on my left shoe. We both commented on how simultaneous that it was San Francisco all over again. Yet, on this occasion, I was not perturbed by the shoe distracting me from a pleasant time; I was thankful for the humor that the broken heel brought. My husband and I laughed about my shoe as we both reflected on our trip to San Francisco.
The walk with my husband in the park came on the heels (pun intended) of a devastating discussion with our oldest daughter. Similar to San Francisco, my husband came to my rescue by meeting me at the park after I had a crushing conversation with our daughter. He listened to all the outpourings of my injured heart; he hugged me; he prayed over me. Once the storm of emotions had passed, we took our walk in the warm evening sunshine. It was in this calm that my heel broke off. Perhaps, it was a symbolic sign of release--of tension, emotion, and stress.
When I suffered a broken heel, I had an immediate vision of the well-known poem “Footprints in the Sand” with Jesus carrying me through my difficulty and me seeing only one set of footprints. I had an encompassing sense of my brokenness—by sight, I saw my detached heel; by touch, I felt my left foot lower than my right, and by heart, I was crushed by my daughter’s words. In the midst of my brokenness, I was protected and uplifted by God. I truly knew at that moment what the apostle James meant when he says in chapter one, “Consider it wholly joy when you encounter trials of any sort…the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness…so that you may be perfectly and fully developed” (James 1: 1-4 NKJV). I could consider my broken heel with joy and laughter, and more importantly, I could consider the hurtful words of my daughter with confidence that God would bring goodness from my endurance. Paul in Romans 12:12 expresses a similar perspective, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (NKJV). We are marked and marred by our difficulties, but we are mended to renewed strength.
I have since repaired my relationship with my daughter. We still have much to work through and have much healing to do, but the path to mending our connections is paved with joy and patience, and faith. I know that God will cause good to come to us who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 NKJV). I am confident that “My God will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV).
Though we have broken heels or hearts, torn straps, or punctured souls, our faith in God, the prayers of a pleading heart, and the recall of God’s Word will heal that brokenness, that tearing, that rupture. The Lord is never far from us; He is closer than we realize. I am reminded of the Disney movie Pollyanna based on the book of the same title written by Eleanor H. Porter when Pollyanna talks about all the glad verses in the Bible: “... if God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must want us to do it—SOME.” And here is just one of those 800 times: “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you” (Psalm 5:11 NKJV). He will bring joy and gladness to our hearts in the middle of our brokenness, and we will laugh again. I am absolutely certain. I will leave it to you to discover the other 799 times God speaks of gladness as I will do when I spend time in His Word.