Every now and then, I come across a story that is very moving and worthy of sharing with others. Such is the case that you are about to read in my column today.
Bishop Michael Blue (Senior Pastor of Door of Hope Christian Church, Marion, SC), who is esteemed by many (myself included) to be perhaps the most well-known and gifted preacher in our region, shared the following story with me. Originally, it was to be included in my column last week about Unforgettable Moms.
After reading it, I thought it was very touching and needed to be presented as a separate piece and complement to that article.
Momma’s Hurting Feet
By Michael A. Blue
This reflection upon Momma might not have poignancy for anyone who was not raised “in the country”. We were poor, but poor was our norm, so we didn’t consider ourselves deficient or deprived: we ate to the full, we slept warm at night – due to the huge pile of quilts and blankets that nearly smothered us. (I actually didn’t learn we were truly poor till I went to college and found our sociological label – lower class.) Momma, i.e., Mrs. Alberta Franklin, was a pragmatist. She was illiterate as relates to formal education, but she was one of the most highly intelligent persons I have ever known.
Now, from late spring to early fall, we all walked around barefoot as much as possible. However, on Sundays, in winter, at school, and on special occasions, we wore shoes – dress shoes were worn mainly on Sunday. It probably was not so in reality, but it seems that every pair of dress shoes that I ever wore as a child hurt my feet! This was particularly true when I became a fast-growing, skinny, preteen.
I never shall forget – I wound up with a pair of black shoes (vinyl) with an attractive red pattern on top (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!). The heels were not as high as they could be in the day of platform shoes, but they were probably 1.5 to 2 inches. And those shoes, though I thought they looked good, hurt!
And we didn’t get new shoes, particularly dress shoes, but about once a year – Easter. My Momma saw me hurting and heard my complaints. She could discern pretense readily, and I was afraid to lie to her, so she knew that I was sincere. And if there was one thing that Momma couldn’t stand, it was the thought that a child was suffering, and particularly HER child. But we also knew that we didn’t have money for more shoes, this along with the fact that our lifestyle was governed by a strong “don’t-waste-nothing” ethic: we rarely threw anything away. So, she tried a couple solutions: she squirted a solution into the shoes that was purported to stretch them. Nothing happened. She even tried taking a razor blade and slightly slitting the side near the big toe (Again, you have to be country to understand.): it didn’t relieve the pain.
Finally, do you know what my Momma did? First, you have to understand that Momma was a BIG woman. She was a farm woman and a farm-food eater: she was heavy. She was not morbidly obese or anything of the sort, but she was fairly tall for a woman; she had a big frame, large hands and feet (larger than mine at the time), rugged because of the hard, impoverished life she had been forced to live all her years. She was legendary for her physical strength exceeding that of the average man.
Back to my question – do you know what my Momma did? Well, remember, we often went barefoot, and she was barefoot at the time. She put my “too-narrow” shoes on her bare feet that were larger than mine — and walked around in them for a while. She gave them back to me. I never remember those shoes hurting me again. She hurt so that I could stop hurting. I will never forget that painful, precious demonstration of pure love.
… it sort of reminds me of another story. It is a story about a Father, Who so loved His children, children who were all walking a most painful journey because they could not fit the narrow shoes of the Law. But the Father put the “too-narrow” shoes on His bare Feet. He walked around in them for about 33 years, until finally He was nailed to the Cross in those shoes. Then He gave them back to us, stretched by Grace. The judgment of the Law can never hurt us again.
Jesus hurt so that we could stop hurting. I will never forget that painful, precious demonstration of Divine Love. Momma’s hurting feet demonstrated Jesus to a skinny, nappy headed boy in Sellers.