It’s Sunday morning. I typically wake up as the sun is rising, jump in the shower, get dressed, then jump in the car to make the long lazy drive over I-840 to the church I attend in a little, yet booming, city called Murfreesboro. Today, however, was different because I wasn’t scheduled to serve. So, what did I do? Nothing. I slept in a little later… guilt free.
Being that our lives stay pretty hectic, and with the Sunday morning routine, unusually, open, I decided it would be fun to take advantage of the time and treat my wife and kids to one of the local, hipster, coffee shops, sit outside, and enjoy the morning sun. Spring is showing off these days. So we did, and it was so nice… peaceful, cool but not too cool, warm but just warm enough, not a cloud in the sky. It was perfect. To further milk the lovely weather, we decided to head over to the local park, enjoy the 3/4 mile walking path, let the kids play on the playground for a while, so that mommy and daddy could enjoy the sun.
After our walk, about 5 minutes into sitting down, Mia, my 4 year old baby girl, realized that her 4 inch tall baby doll was missing a shoe. Mommy began to interrogate the situation, “Did you have it in the van? Did you leave it in the van? Was it on her when we left the house? Was she wearing it while we were on our walk?” You know… the normal parental investigative routine. I, being the superhero dad that I am, decided to go check the van… imagine my joy and enthusiasm when I opened the van to find that the freaking shoe wasn’t in the van. In that moment, I, as a normal, tired, sick of anything that remotely looks like another toy, parent, had two options… one, go back to Mia, and let her know that the purple shoe is, unfortunately, gone forever, unless it later shows up somewhere in the van or back at the house… two… close the door to the van, give up this rare moment of free time, having relaxing conversation with my wife, and make the long walk back around the path to find this stupid pinky nail sized shoe, that she will, no doubt, in a week or two, not give a #$%@ about.
So, off I went, in search of the purple shoe.
Not five steps into my odyssey, back around the trail, for this cheap, plastic, piece of crap, tiny, shoe, I found a dollar bill. I saw it as a gift from God, a good omen, or something, for deciding to take the less convenient path. I would’ve never found it had I not taken to the journey back around the trail. Who knows what blessings may await us as embrace a path of love. Of course, let’s be honest… dollar bills are probably worth about as much as the purple shoe probably is, no thanks to the brainiacs in government, but, nonetheless, I was thankful. To be honest, I enjoyed the walk. I’m a runner, an introverted personality, at heart, so I enjoy the time alone, but I’d rather have been hanging with my wife, watching the kids enjoy their time on the playground. We rarely have mornings, like this, where we can just do nothing. I wanted to do nothing with my family, and soak it in, not look for this shoe, but like I said, deep inside, I’m OK with the long walks, or runs. I walked slow, careful with each step, eyes slowly skimming back and forth, taking quick moments to say hey to the passer byers, and making quick glances behind me, just in case, but not too long, for fear that I might miss this God forsaken shoe. To make a long, unnecessary, story short, 10 minutes into my walk, about 3/4 around the path, I found it. It was sitting on a deck that over looks the water. Mia had gotten out of the stroller to see the water at one point, doll in hand, and apparently the doll felt that was an appropriate time to kick her shoes off. Stupid doll. Regardless, I was happy to find the shoe. I returned to my wife, who was sitting with Mia, pulled out the missing shoe, and returned it to her happy owner.
Anybody who’s a normal, living, breathing parent knows how parenting, many days, can be one of the most inconvenient, apathetic, thankless jobs in human history. The responsibility of raising another human being, from the ground up, is real. Did I want to walk around a trail looking for a useless shoe? No. Do I still think she’d be just as happy without it as she is with it? Yes. However, upon returning it, did I love seeing the smile on her face? Did I enjoy getting a little kiss, as a way of saying thanks? Did I enjoy, then, a short time on the swings with her after the long journey? All yes. What was a, seemingly, inconvenience for me was a blessing for her, and, ultimately, the gift of love I received from her, for my good deed, was more rewarding than had I not taken to the path to seek out the shoe.
We could’ve gone to church, dropped the kids off at Sunday school class, sang songs, listened to a good sermon, then returned home. All good, nothing necessarily bad about that, but getting the opportunity to actually demonstrate the love of a father is more of a church service, for us all, than just learning about it. I’m her daddy, I love her dearly, and honestly… I’m happy to be, personally, inconvenienced for the sake of her joy. Isn’t that what love is? Anybody can sit, read, learn, talk, or sing a song about love, but embracing the less convenient moments, when something encroaches on our comfort, time, or resources, for the sake of building up, or the well being, of another is love set to motion. The reality is she experienced a sermon played out in real life. Her daddy saved the day. Our love for one another actually grew deeper this morning. Sounds stupid to a, so called, mature adult, but to a four year old, that shoe is everything, and her daddy walking all the way around the path to seek it out is like Superman saving Lois Lane from a burning building.
I hate to say it, I still think it’s a cheap toy, but I’m actually thankful for that purple shoe…