There are many beautiful, wild and quirky things that come together to make me…well, me. And, as my Creator invites me into a deeper love of what is my story, I discover more of those nuances that continue to surprise me.
This time, I discovered a twisty, bright and ridiculous thread connecting a beautiful part of my story to an unreasonable love of…shoes. I have often caught myself cursing this love by naming it absurd, shallow and down-right unchristian. Silly. Frivolous. I mean really…there are more important things to think about.
All that may be true in some respects, but I can tell you that the more I squat down and hold the face and heart of my little girl self, the more I appreciate God’s lovely gift of shoes.
As a child, I had two options in the shoe department at the start of every school year. Saddle shoes or Hush Puppies. Black and white or muddy brown. Certainly sensible, but no real choice, especially for this little girl. My mother was not a women who found joy in the beauty of a shiny patent leather and took her daughter down a path that could only lead to boring feet that had to last all the way to the next school year…holidays and all.
I remember my shoe infatuation coming out in full force at the tender age of 10, with a Christmas gift of $5.00…cash. My grandmother probably didn’t expect five dollars to be the cause of such excitement, but I saw it as pure possibility and of course, I could not be contained until I stood in front of Baker’s Shoe store. In my hand was the card that held the words…”Spend this on something you love.” And I did just that when I bought a pair of bright yellow flats with a big yellow bow on the top. Summer shoes on the clearance rack, but I didn’t care about that. All I saw was that bright yellow color and that perfect bow. All winter long, I wore those beautiful yellow shoes with everything, including my pink flannel nightgown.
Last month I added a bright pair of shoes to a story outline that I am working on in a Journey Group. I remember jumping into my car and heading for the nearest little girl shoe department. Nothing but a nice patent leather would do and a bow on the toe would be perfect. I found the most beautiful shoes, and they couldn’t stay hidden in the box for long! I quickly hung them on my outline with a lovely pink satin ribbon. As I stood back and looked at those pretty shoes next to my little girl picture, I allowed myself to grieve the childhood loss of that joy for the first time. The heavy sense of sadness came not just for that little girl, but for the indulgent joy my mother could not allow. It’s not the shoes that really mattered, but that she never rejoiced in what beauty might feel like—to be frivolous in the love a patent leather shoe, to indulge the uniqueness of her child. My heart began to feel grief for the daughter who was not allowed to share in the delight of being feminine or see joy in her mother’s face.
But I know what it looks like. I experienced this kind of loving and joyful indulgence between a mother and daughter this fall, when I was invited to my friend’s home for a weekend of laughter and rest. I was offered the room of her daughter to sleep in and as I looked around this room, I felt her daughter’s character come through in all of the colors, fabrics, and pictures that filled her space. I saw my friend as a mother, instead of a ministry leader. I saw how she honored the uniqueness of her daughter and that thought nudged my heart somewhere that I hadn’t allowed before. It wasn’t until I laid down that first evening, that I took in the little glass chandelier that hung from the ceiling.
Who hangs such an extravagant light fixture in their bedroom?
I had never in all my life seen anything like it. It was crazy beautiful and completely extravagant— prodigal—and the orange ribbon that wound around the chain made it completely hers.
I have spent much time thinking about that chandelier with the orange ribbon. Maybe that’s why I just had to find the perfect shiny patent leather shoes for that little girl. She needed that one prodigal gift.
This Christmas, I may just wrap those shiny shoes up with an extra big bow and put them under the Christmas tree. My son Nathan and his wife, Becca are expecting their second child in May. My grandson, August has brought so much joy that it’s almost unimaginable to think there will be more. And…maybe this child will be a little girl who will love wearing shiny patent leather shoes. Or maybe she’ll want the bright pink with the sparkles, or the shoes with the orange ribbons. It really won’t matter. I will be fully blessed in indulging her. And just like that lovely chandelier, it will speak of the immense love, the joy and beauty that each child brings into this world.
Although I’m not exactly sure where this fascination with footwear began, it has become one of those quirky, beautiful threads of what continues to be my story. I fully believe that heaven may feel very much like walking into Nordstrom’s Shoe department…my Jesus knows all about this shoe thing of mine. Maybe He’ll greet me holding that one perfect pair. He is prodigal with an unshakable love for His daughter and winds lovely orange ribbons around beautiful chandeliers to remind her.
Kris Jakubaitis believes our stories are how we hear the voice of God. She loves everything that is fiber and color…quilting with bright beautiful fabrics is how she continues to surround herself with what she knows to be her….a bit crazy and surprising with no need to match. She has 2 sons, 1 perfect grandson and a granddaughter in the making (in need more tutu’s)! God has shown Kris that He loves her wild and quirky kind of beauty, and she finds it an honor to be in a place where she can show others the same. She has a special place in her heart for orange ribbons.