I dream about wearing high heels.
I loved covering Barbie’s pointed toes with colored shoes to match every outfit she owned hour after hour as a child. I loved the way her legs looked in them, even though they couldn’t bend. Sometimes as an adult, I ask my friends if I can try on their heels just so I can see what I look like while they stand next to me in the mirror propping me up. I hope in heaven, I will have a closet of heels and get to wear the shiny red ones any time I want.
I found myself trapped in this day dream again while sitting at a meeting one night. The woman next to me was wearing these cute black and white plaid heels with black tips and a little gemstone on the top. I would look like such a beautiful woman in those…and then I stared down at my own shoes: black, flat, orthotic. I like to have a little hint in my wardrobe that I might, in fact, be a librarian. My shoes scream it.
There are moments when I’m frustrated by my footwear, especially the years I spent in Reeboks while trying to manage inserts, planter fasciitis, and a brace. Some days I would close eyes and tell myself, don’t think about it, don’t think about it, it’s not as bad as you think it is. Then I would open my eyes, see my Reeboks with a dress; Yuck! Cringe, and go to work.
I found myself one day after work sitting in a shiny lobby waiting to meet with a financial advisor. The receptionist had brought me a hot cup of coffee which I attempted to sip, but every time the door opened, there was this loud “click” which made me jump and spill on myself every time. Not going to lie, it was a rough 10 minutes.
Luckily I was soon rescued and seated in a private room away from the pesky door. The woman in front of me began clicking through slides on a screen, telling me about retirement, health insurance, and Roth IRAs. She had spent her life making friends with numbers when I had spent my time befriending words. My head was already spinning slightly when she gradually pushed her chair away from the table and said, “I know it’s just the two of us, but I typically stand up through this part of the presentation.” Suddenly, there was a tower in front of me, propped up by six inch heels. Her stilettos were the exclamation point on the end of a sentence that clearly read I am ABOVE you!
This wasn’t about Barbie anymore.
As I looked up at her, I began to feel:
I looked down, and for a moment, I felt thankful. Thankful that my misshapen feet have somehow kept me by default from towering over another person, making them feel as miniscule as I felt in that moment. I pictured my students in my reading nook, huddled around me. I wondered what kind of message I was portraying in the fatigue I’ve resigned myself to; to, instead, sit and look at my students from eye level instead of standing above them.
Perspective can be life altering; eye level is one thing, but…
What does it mean to come underneath?
I’ve pondered this question often since my encounter with those six inch heels.
I thought about it again while sitting in a pedicure shop in Minnetonka as a little Vietnamese woman sat on a stool and carefully washed and massaged my feet last March, bringing some relief to my aching fascia. As she painted my nails, I learned that she faithfully worked seven days a week, serving others in this way. Her act of service was a gift to me and almost felt holy.
I imagine that when Jesus came to earth, he likely walked its roads in sandals. And when it was time, he took a towel, wrapped it around His waist, and washed the feet of his disciples. Jesus came for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but he also came for financial advisors, tired librarians, and Vietnamese pedicurists. He came for you and He came for me. He came so we might learn from Him to take off our six inches of power and position, so that we too, might learn to serve.