When my daughter was home from college last summer, she left a pair of shoes, flip-flops by the back door. One evening, I put on those flip-flops because I needed to take the trash out to the bin. The bin is around the side of the house, across a large expanse of landscape rock – not something you want to trek on barefooted. Pair that with the darkness of the back corner and the ever present reality of snakes and scorpions showing up in the desert, shoes are a must for this chore. It seemed that putting on her shoes to take out the trash was exactly the right thing to do for my walk to the bin. I had a job to do, and it seemed, the tools to get it done were laid out in front of me.
I slipped my bare feet into them in the house. As I walked to the kitchen can to grab the trash bag, I was proud of myself for declaring to do this task of taking out the trash – one my husband usually does. The shoes felt ok while I was on the smooth, forgiving wood floor in the house, so I opened the back door and stepped out onto the patio. With the first step onto the concrete patio, something felt off. The balance of the shoes didn’t match the balance of my body and the steps were awkward. The straps on the flip flops weren’t secure on my feet, and I had to almost shuffle to keep them on. But, determined to keep those shoes on my feet, and get the bag in the bin, I carried on.
With bag in hand and flip-flops on feet, I made my way to the edge of the rocks. I knew the steps I had taken on the patio didn’t feel quite right. I thought briefly about how by steps on the patio may be an indication that the rest of the walk would be hard. But, I didn’t want to do the work of going back in the house, putting bag down, going all the way upstairs to find my shoes, all the way back down again, pick up the bag, and across the patio again. So I stepped on the rocks.
Within the first two steps, I had the painful realization that this journey was not going well. Each time I stepped, the jagged landscape rocks seemed to impale my feet. The flip-flops were worn down exactly in the places that my feet needed padding. As I tiptoed and danced around to escape the pain (you know how that is… like when you step on a Lego in the living room…) the flip-flops that didn’t fit my feet right flew off. And there I was, barefoot in the middle of the expanse of jagged rocks. Those shoes were as useful to me as trying to wear a pair of stilettos instead of sneakers to run a marathon.
My only hope of rescuing my feet, and getting the task done was to gingerly step over to the grass, go in the house, get my own shoes, and take the trash to the bin in the shoes that allow me to make the trip successfully.
Take a moment here.
Look down at your feet.
As you look at your feet, think about your goal journey. One of the reasons you may be struggling in it is because you are trying to make the trek in shoes that don’t belong to you. When you try to wear shoes that are not yours on a journey that is yours, the results are painful. Their steps are different than yours. Their balance is different than yours. You may be trying to reach the same destination, but the route, the detours, the experiences, and the challenges will be different than yours – making the shoes wear differently.
Stop comparing your journey, your walk, your shoes, to those of someone else. When you are struggling, take a look at your feet. You may be trying to make your journey in your friend’s stilettos, when for YOUR journey, detours, and side trips you will need sneakers.