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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Purposefulness (Purpose in Life) (05/25/06)

TITLE: The Purpose Driven Feet
By Sheila Arnott


Most of the time, I feel that my efforts are not very purposeful, nor are they even recognized or valued by others. I wonder, in my prayers, “Why am I here? Am I doing Your will?” When life feels scattered to and fro, it’s hard to gauge your success, much less your purpose.

I think that my purpose, according to Him, changes day to day, but I’m never sure if I have achieved success, or missed the mark. However, I was blessed with a glimpse that I could be on the right track the other day while shoe shopping, of all places.

I was at the second shoe store for the day with my middle child, Lila, and her younger brother, Cason. We were having a difficult time finding sandals that fit her properly. This is a process we go through every summer, as Lila was born with some differences, in her hands and her feet, which make shoe shopping, particularly sandal shopping, challenging.

On this day, Lila was picking out lots of flip-flops and strappy numbers with little heels. At seven years old, she had become style-conscious. I can tell with one glance if she will be able to fit her cylindrical little right foot into a shoe, so I was doing my usual vetoing of the “flimsy” ones and offering up the sturdier, meatier sandals. She, in turn, was vetoing all of my choices. When I sat down on the floor, she knew I was weak and she went in for the kill.

“How about these, Mommy?” She held up some sporty-looking, Dr. Scholl-type sandals. Now, normally I veto anything that does not have a proper strap on the back of the shoe as well as the front, but I was worn out. After she did the obligatory “walk around” in them to show me that they stayed on her feet, I gave in. Next stop, the drugstore.

On the way to the drugstore, I explained to Lila that, since these were rather flimsy sandals, she could wear them to the pool and around the house, but anytime she had to do a considerable amount of walking, she’d need to wear her sneakers. Lila began to cry.

In the midst of all of her sobbing and whining, she confessed that these new sandals actually did not really fit properly. I parked at the drugstore and turned around to look at her. “WHY then did we buy them, exactly?!” Lila then had an official meltdown, and blurted out, “I just want flip-flops like everybody else!!” I took my special child in my lap. “Why can’t I have regular feet? I don’t mind about my hands, they make me special, but I just want a pair of flip-flops, Mommy!” she cried out.

She told me how tiresome it was to have kids always asking her what happened to her hands. “People are curious, especially children.” I explained calmly. She sobbed pitifully, and I held it together as best I could. I told her it would get easier as she got older. Then, she hit me with the whammy. “Would you wish for me to be like everyone else, Mommy?” Lump in my throat, bottom lip a-trembling, I looked her squarely in the eyes and said, “I would never change a single thing about you, Lila. I love you just exactly the way you are.” Big smile.

She wasn’t finished with me yet, though, because the next thing she said was, “Mommy, I am so thankful to have a Mommy and a Daddy who love me just the way I am.” I was a goner! I, too, began to cry and there we sat, crying and laughing and making a spectacle of ourselves, I’m sure.

And so it happened, right there in the drugstore parking lot, with little brother Cason climbing over the mini-van seats, opening and closing the side-door to peek at the other people pulling in and out, that I understood my purpose of the day. It wasn’t to find proper-fitting sandals for Lila; it was to really listen, to comfort and to reassure her. Her tearful smile and laugh told me that I had achieved much on this day.

Mission accomplished, Lord. I am ready for my next assignment.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Rev. Toni Brown06/01/06
I really enjoyed this....And it is wonderful to realize that we have purpose in our everyday living while going about our regular routine.
Sherry Wendling06/03/06
Delightful! Beautifully written, heartwarming...Great title, and a lesson we can all identify with. What a blessed little girl! I hope this wins.
Ann FitzHenry06/06/06
I loved this! What a wonderful, inspirational story.
Valerie Routhieaux06/07/06
Thank you. Your little moment made my moment. It's not the big things that we look for it's the small, and sometimes almost missed things that count most. I'm still wiping away my tears. Keep sharing and writing. You have a wonderful way with words that bring out the pure joy of reading.