But there are times when my favorite thrift stores let me down. Some things are just not easy to find: for example, dress shoes for little boys. Since we homeschool, the kids can run around barefoot most of the time; and their worn old sandals are fine for excursions to the park or grocery store. But for church, they need proper shoes.
My six year old's last pair of church shoes was a steal at ninety cents (yes, you read that right, ninety cents), or so I thought. But I soon realized that they weren't going to hold up, at all. The fake leather couldn't handle the scuffs and scrapes inflicted by my very active little boy. The top layer started to peel away, and when I tried to color in the peeled spots with a Sharpie, the ink wouldn't hold.
As the weeks went by and my routine stops in the thrift stores continued to turn up nothing, I began to feel frustrated. I imagined to myself that the other moms at church were looking critically at his feet; so, feeling defensive, I volunteered the fact that I was having a hard time finding shoes for him on my limited budget. They were happy to offer helpful tips like "You know, the clearance sales at Stride Rite are great. You can get forty dollar shoes for twenty-five bucks, and they hold up really well." I just smiled and nodded, knowing that I wouldn't be setting foot in a Stride Rite store any time soon. I was sorry I had said anything about his shoes. "You just don't get it," I thought to myself.
After a couple of weeks of feeling resentful, however, I began to relax and get a sense of perspective. The reality is: we are poor, and sometimes it's going to show. And you know what? It doesn't really matter. We still have a lot to be thankful for. Sure, my son's shoes were worn out and ratty-looking, but he had shoes on his feet, and they fit him. That's more than a lot of kids in the world can say. Besides, the people who were seeing him in his worn out shoes are all friends and family who will love him no matter what he wears--at least, I sure hope so!
Of course, I still kept looking for that elusive pair of dress shoes, and finally, I found it. A good quality name brand, with real leather uppers, for $3.99. And they fit him perfectly! I couldn't believe it.
Look how much better they are than his old ones. It's so nice to see my son wearing good shoes to church.
Lesson learned: Patience, grasshopper! Good things come to those who wait. Or, as the Bible says...
...why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field: they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore, take no thought, saying...Wherewithal shall we be clothed? ...for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:28-33