We scurried about the house, getting ready to go to the Ash Wednesday service at our church.
We asked our 5-year-old girl, who despises wearing shoes, to hurry up and put some on her feet. We assumed she’d wear the new sneakers she wore the rest of the day, as most of us were wearing the same clothes we’d worn all day.
She disappeared for too long back to her room. At first I assumed she started playing up there, riling me up a bit.
Soon she returned, wearing a pair of black dress shoes that showed off colorful socks she’d worn all day, hidden by those sneakers.
We giggled as first as she said, “I have my church shoes on now.”
Many of us will find our “Sunday best” to wear to church or special events. As we start the Lenten season, though, it made my wife and I take a step back and wonder if we’re wearing our church shoes every day.
It’s so easy in modern life to compartmentalize things. This is your work life. This is your home life. This is your religious life.
Lent has a way of meshing those together. You usually give something up, and people may notice. I gave up snacks for Lent this year. It hurt mightily to pass on those scrumptious cupcakes a coworker brought Friday. Same thing with not eating meat on Fridays.
They’re relatively small sacrifices, though, that I find refocus me on the truly important tasks of being a true and faithful servant of God in what I do. I pair them up with more spiritual endeavors that I won’t detail here, since frankly they’re between God and me.
Like everyone who goes to church, I’m a pretty bad Christian sometimes. Sometimes I’m quick to judge and slow to listen. I’m not as compassionate as I ought to be. My generosity in spirit and in material possessions falls short.
In other words, I’m not wearing my church shoes every day, even though I know I should.
The world and the devil challenge us every day. They’ll tell you that you don’t need church shoes. They’ll tell you that you’re enough all by yourself. They’ll tell you churches are full of hypocrites and judgmental fools.
Only that last one is true. Church also happens to have the truth, the only blueprint for living that really works and really satisfies, even if the people inside sometimes struggle to follow that truth.
As we go through Lent and beyond, I’m challenging myself to think like our 5-year-old girl. I’m going to try desperately to wear my church shoes today. More importantly, I want to make every pair of shoes I walk in become a pair of church shoes, so I’ll never be ashamed of my path.