I kept my eyes fixed on the ground to make sure I didn’t bump my suitcase into anyone. There was a long line of impatient people hurrying from the train station and into the airport. That’s when I saw her. She was dressed in clothes that let me understand that she was wealthy. Her face was beautifully made up and she gestured and smiled toward a young man. I guessed he was her son. They looked alike. As I observed her absentmindedly, I noticed her shoes. And suddenly, I was very present in the moment.
This elegant lady was wearing a pair of expensive slippers. You know, those highly decorated, open-heeled slip-ons that you see everyone wearing these days. The shoes were nice enough. Just not for her feet.
I could barely take my eyes from the inch and a half of heel that was left hanging in the air, unsupported by the shoe sole. For some reason, this woman had chosen a pair of shoes that was way too small for her.
Ignoring the pain
Why would she do that? It looked so painful, but she trotted along seemingly without noticing. It was obvious that she was used to walking like that. The shoes were not new, but not worn down either. They were definitely hers, not just some shoes that she had picked up for the occasion.
But they were too small. Like, 2 or 3 sizes too small.
Why would she step into smaller shoes than her feet required? It had to be agonizing. Why would she still wear them, even though her feet were left without proper support and grounding? Did she choose them for appearance and completely ignore the fact that that particular pair was meant for someone else? Why would she pretend to be something she was not?
Why would any woman choose to wear shoes and roles that were too tiny? Squeezing into uncomfortable slip-ons and discard the pain that comes with losing one’s bearing? Being suspended mid-air while sacrificing the need for support?
Why would anyone willingly shrink their personality and character to fit someone else’s expectations? Hide their qualifications to make others look good? Lower their ambitions to fit in?
What makes female leaders choose invisibility over flowing in their gifting? Why settle for less than they are destined for?
All these questions, all summed up in this one:
How many disappointments did it take to break her spirit?
Whose shoes are those anyway?
We often talk about filling someone’s shoes, implying that the shoes are too big, or at least, that one needs to grow into them. I’m sure that is true in many cases but seeing that woman at the train station made me think that many women are stuck with shoes that are too small for their feet and their calling.
Some time ago, I saw this lovely film called “Wonder”. Little Augie was starting at a public school and was desperate to fit in with the rest of the kids. He hid his face in a space helmet, not realizing that everyone focused on him because of the helmet. Via, his big sister, gave him the key to survival:
If they stare, let them stare. You can’t blend in when you were born to stand out.
Get some proper footwear. You’re going somewhere.