Each Fall when it was time to get school clothes, my mother took me to the store to buy new shoes. I always asked, “Can I have a pair of black patent leather shoes?”
She always answered, “No, you have to get brown shoes because the black patent leather doesn’t last.”
I would come back with, “Well, then can I have a pair of penny loafers?”
Her answer was always the same, “No, they are too expensive.”
Then one year came along when she wasn’t feeling well, and my Dad had the duty of taking me to town to get my new shoes for school. Before we got in the car, my mother instructed Dad, “Don’t let Esther get black patent leather shoes. She always asks for them and they won’t last so don’t buy them for her.”
When we got to town, we entered the shoe store, and I immediately spotted the coveted black patent leather shoes. I was sure I could talk my Dad into them and proceeded to bug him about how much I wanted them. He repeatedly told me how he was instructed not to buy them. After a few times of telling him how much I wanted them and telling him that all Mom ever gets me are those ugly brown shoes, he bargained with me. He asked, “If I buy those shoes for you, will you promise to take extra special care of them? Will you make sure you don’t get them wet so they won’t crack and ruin? And will you polish them every week so they will last throughout the school year?
“Oh yes, Daddy! I promise all those things.”
He said, “Well, you better do as you have promised because I probably am going to be in trouble with your mother when we get home.”
The next day, we had family come from another state. I was wearing these wonderful new shoes and feeling so fine. I took my cousins down to the river to show them one of the neat things we had on the farm. When we arrived at the river, I told them the sand on the riverbank was quicksand even though it was not true! I tried talking them into walking on it, but none of them took the bait. So continuing to show off, I said, “Well, then I will walk on it since you’re scared.”
To my horror, I sunk into the sand. This had never happened before when my brothers and I played there. My cousins grabbed my arms and helped me get back on solid ground. I looked down at my shoes and saw that they were not only wet but also covered with sand.
We made our way back to the house and I was trying to sneak in the back door to clean my shoes when my Dad must have had a sixth sense and asked what I was doing. I told him “I just need to go in the house for a few minutes and change my shoes.”
Dad was out of his chair and right behind me. He saw that my shoes were wet and coated with sand. He yelled at me, and I know he was so upset that I had not even gone a full day until I broke my promise.
Within a few days, my mother got to feeling better and took me to town to get my usual pair of brown shoes. I was to save my black patent leather shoes for special occasions only. If only I had known this from 1 Peter 3:10 (NRSV) earlier “For those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit.”
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