A few days ago, my fiancee’ JoAnna and I went shoe hunting at a mall in Boardman, Ohio. After a year of selling cd’s door to door, playing shows, and pounding the pavement in multiple states, my kicks were way past the age of retirement. With gaping black holes on the sides of each shoe and a thin layer of rubber barely hanging onto the bottom, the comfort factor my gray VANS sported a couple months ago slowly transformed into a painful nuisance.
Although, I couldn’t wait to replace tweedle dee and tweedle dum with a new pair of comfortable counterparts, I became strangely nostalgic as we drove to the mall. In between Jo’s humorous stories of her third graders’ unpredictable classroom antics, I silently stared at the passing signs and yellow lines of the highway. For fifteen or twenty seconds at a time, I flashed back to the various sidewalks, churches, and camps where my beat up shoes lost microscopic amounts of their tread.
I purchased them in Huntington Beach, California at a VANS store before my first day of waiting in line at American Idol. It may sound strange, but switching out shoe styles, getting a haircut, and buying a fresh pair of blue jeans plus a t-shirt are all personal rituals I go through when I sense that I’m entering a new phase of my life. And since I legitimately thought I might become the next American Idol, I decided it was time to exchange my old slip-ons for some real shoes. A few days later, the same gray VANS surf shoes I had acquired with such hope still clung to my feet as I silently made my way through the loser’s exit of the stadium into the parking lot, where I walked to my car with a pace of bewilderment wondering why I had come out to L.A. in the first place.
Later on that week, they cushioned my feet while I paced, prayed, and figured out a plan for making it as a full-time musician. And over the course of a year, they made it through snow, rain, and tons of abuse while I sold cd’s at 2,000 doors, in 10 malls, and in hundreds of businesses and salons. They danced with me as I worshipped God at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. They walked with me through airports on my way to and from Florida, Texas, and California. They rested on the gas pedal as I traveled highways that led me through the many towns of Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Missouri, and Pennsylvania. They ran with me on basketball courts, kicked stones with me as romantic relationships fell through, and held me to the ground when I experienced true love’s first kiss.
In short, the holes that mark these shoes aren’t like the fabricated holes that are factory-cut into pairs of American Eagle or Abercrombie & Fitch jeans. The worn-out look my VANS display isn’t a style to be bought. It’s a trophy of hard work and experience. One of my favorite philosophers, Forrest Gump matter-of-factly stated, “Momma always said there’s an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes… Where they goin.’ Where they been.”
As Jo and I browsed through PacSun for some new shoes, it was easy to pick out the new pair of grey 6.0 Nike Chukka’s. I didn’t choose them because of their name brand or because I thought they’d make me run faster or jump higher. I chose them because I could imagine them running onto stage with me at my cd release concert, crossing the threshold with me as I carry Jo into our first house, and standing with me as I preach, teach, and sing the good news of Jesus Christ.
There’s an interesting passage in scripture that exclaims, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!” By October of next year, I hope my shoes are beautiful, but not because I’ve pampered them or failed to use them. Just the opposite. I hope they are beautiful with the stains, rips, and wear that an adventurous life brings. I hope they’re beautiful because they’ve helped me spread the good news.
Note to readers: A new blog will be posted every Thursday. Also, I have a new Christmas single out called, “So In Love at Christmas Time!” Check it out after the pictures below, and if you like it, buy it on itunes! Thanks for spending your time reading my blogs and listening to my songs. It means a lot.