by Lori Stanley Roeleveld @lorisroeleveld
He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” John 1:20-21 ESV
As vital as knowing who we are is knowing who we are not – and accepting that.
To my mother’s despair, I’ve always been a sensible shoe girl. I grew up studious, bookish, and serious about God and didn’t see the allure of shiny shoes. I was happy with a brown pair for every day, one black pair for Sundays, and sneakers.
My mother had an entire closet devoted to shoes. It sported every color imaginable, heels of varying heights, and, of course, purses to match. She always looks polished and lovely, but it seems exhausting to me to switch purses all the time and shop for the perfect shoes for each outfit.
When I began speaking to women’s groups, I fretted about my shoe situation. I imagined rooms full of women like my mother quietly assessing my boring, sensible shoes. Suddenly, speaking didn’t feel as much about my message as it did about what was on my feet.
It’s not that I wanted to change myself for them as much as I wanted the women to know I respected them enough to work at my appearance. I didn’t want my footwear to distract them from what God had given me to share.
So, I shopped for heels with lovely colors and practiced walking in them. I developed a modest collection, weathering blisters and sore ankles in preparation for events. But as much as I tried, I couldn’t feel at home in pretty shoes.
To my dismay, while no audience member may have been distracted by my footwear, I certainly was! The complaints from my feet began to register by the middle of my talks, growing into undeniable screams long before the end. Afterward, I could only half-listen to earnest women trying to share their concerns before rushing to my car for the relief of my sensible shoes.
Providentially, during a home renovation project, several hundred pounds of sheet rock crushed my left foot, leaving me in a boot for months. The orthopedist informed me that my days of wearing heels were over.
I could almost hear God’s sigh of relief. I was never meant to be a pretty shoe kind of girl. He designed me for sensible shoes. I’ve worn them ever since. And you know what? None of the women to whom I speak have even noticed. How I underestimated the depth of my pretty shoe-wearing friends! I can now give them my full attention without the agony of screaming feet.
John the Baptist not only knew who he was, but also who he wasn’t. This grounded his ministry and prepared him to serve in the way God designed. He came on the scene with such incredible power. And as the crowds flocked to hear him preach, it might have been tempting to consider taking a greater role. But in humility, he accepted that as Christ increased, he must decrease.
Knowing who we are provides us courage in Christ; accepting who we aren’t increases our humility and helps us to see ourselves within the context of a body of believers. This ultimately gives us freedom in Christ to appreciate the varying gifts of others.
And as long as our feet are fitted with the gospel, we can serve in heels, flats, or flip-flops, but in the end we serve together as a body in the name of Christ!
About the author: Lori Stanley Roeleveld is an author, speaker, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.
Lori’s latest release is The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. The dialogues everyday Christians delay are often the very channels God wants to use to deepen relationships and transform lives. Through funny, vulnerable personal stories and sound biblical teaching, the principles here are guaranteed to increase the confidence and competence of Christians in discussing sensitive topics of every kind.
Join the conversation: Have you ever tried to be someone you weren’t?