There is just something pretty special about new shoes, at least for this shoe-loving girl. Their pristine condition, without a scuff or mark, and the excitement of picking the perfect outfit to go with your new shoes make wearing them for the first time a noteworthy experience. A $25 pair of leopard print flats that I bought on sale a few years ago will always and forever be that most perfect pair of shoes for me. From the moment I saw these shoes, I knew they were mine—despite being a little flashier that what I would normally wear. Would these look right on me? Would they go with the clothes hanging in my closet?
In April of 2012, I took my first (un)adopted medical trip to China to serve orphans. Leading up to the trip I was so excited with anticipation of a new experience, especially one in which I would get to travel across the world to take part in. I just could not believe I was going to Asia! Along with the excitement came a good dose of hesitation. How would the children react to me? Could I emotionally handle seeing an orphanage first hand? Would I like the food? Would these children find their forever family someday?
For a while, these shoes just felt so new. You know what it is like when they are right out of the box, without any blemishes or imperfections. They are perfect in every way, but most often, they don’t fit right. Those perfect shoes have yet to mold to your feet. They can rub blisters, make your feet ache, and make you hyper-aware of the fact that you are wearing brand new shoes. When you look down or walk past a mirror, you think to yourself, “Look at that, I’m wearing new shoes!”
That first trip with un(adopted) was quite surreal. Intellectually, I knew that worldwide there were millions of orphans but to see them and know them by name was something completely different. It felt so strange being there and taking part in helping these children come one step closer to finding their families. God used that trip to break my heart into so many pieces. Seeing these children without families to hold them and love them left me wrecked. Memories of these children permeated my thoughts, and the Lord used these children to change the way I thought, the way I prayed, and what I hoped for. Taking part in His pursuit of the Fatherless was so clearly God’s plan in my life, but it was rubbing blisters on my feet. What is my response to what I now know? To what I have now seen?
Fast forward a few years, and I have now worn my leopard print shoes with just about every outfit in my closet . . . because everyone knows leopard print is a neutral. These shoes that I knew deep down would be perfect suddenly fit just right. No more blisters or aches or pains. These shoes are comfortable, made for walking. Those leopard print flats feel like they were meant to be in my closet and worn specifically on my feet. These shoes were made for me, and I love them. They are well-loved and have been perfectly incorporated into my wardrobe. If you see me out and about on a random Saturday, expect to see me in those shoes.
This past month, a volunteer team with un(adopted) again flew around the globe to southern China to meet children that our Heavenly Father adores. This was my third trip, and one that felt a bit different from the first two. Where there was once some uneasiness, unknowingness, and surprise, there was now contentment and a deep joy. The deep joy of knowing that serving in this capacity is simply part of who I am. Each child we met was unique and had a story all their own. But, the culture shock was now gone, and even more than that, a piece of my heart felt like it was home.
When I passed by those shoes on the shelf all those year ago, they sparked something in me.
When a friend challenged me to engage in orphan care four years ago by simply asking me to come alongside her and un(adopted) to southern China, God sparked something in me. That spark has now grown into a raging fire.
Is God calling you out of your comfort zone? Is he asking you to pick up a pair of shoes that look nothing like the sneakers sitting in your closet? Do it. Pick them up and put them on. You may be in for quite the journey in them, and who knows where the journey will end?