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White sandals

By T ~

Sometimes we're taught, by well-meaning people, things that are not true, things that in the end may hurt us more than heal us. Things that, when scrutinized, do not stand the test of time.

I am reminded of white sandals when I think of the people in my life who have incorrectly informed me, who have had good intentions, who have believed certain things that, upon closer inspection, should not be believed.

It's okay. I get it. I'm not angry at them. Maybe that's why the white sandals thing happened. I was the “teacher” in this case, I was the “person in the know,” the authority, you could say.

Three years ago, my family and I attended a wedding. The ceremony was outdoors, in a park. It was mid-July, a hot day. Of course, the bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome, love was in the air, and so on. After the ceremony, there was a two- or three-hour break until the reception. I offered to take my sister to the beach. My sister is a year younger than me; she is mentally-challenged and functions at age three or four.

We drove the short distance to the beach. I was wearing a black and pink dress and strappy black sandals with heels. I realized she was wearing white sandals. White sandals plus sand...not good. I didn't want her to get the sandals dirty, so I told her to take them off. I'm sure I even offered to carry them.

We walked past the people who were sun-tanning, playing volleyball, swimming. A man lying on a towel stopped me. He asked if he didn't think it was too hot for my sister to be walking in the sand. I didn't know. She hadn't said a thing. I forget sometimes that she will go along with almost anything anyone tells her. She's just like that. And I generally don't swim, especially not in lakes, and I don't walk on sand. I don't own flip flops. If I were to walk at the beach on a hot, hot day, I would most likely be wearing shoes that are difficult to remove, and I would not remove them. Unless they were white, and I don't think I ever wear white sandals. (And, yes, much of the time I'm lost in my own little world and quite absent-minded - and that is all there is to it!)

The point is, I thought I was doing a good thing. I did not want my sister to get her sandals dirty. I didn't think twice that her feet might be hurting.

That's how I see it now – all these things I was taught by pastors, teachers, leaders, parents, friends, over the years. We grow up with certain beliefs, we don't really question them, we get set in our ways, we're surrounded by people with similar ideas, and...soon, we don't even realize what we're doing and why. And then someone comes along and asks if we don't think the sand is too hot to be walking on. Having our faith questioned, doubted, scrutinized, shattered, is definitely not so easy to “fix” as slipping on those sandals and continuing a stroll on the beach. The thought-processing, the re-prioritizing, the sleepless nights, the searching, the lack of answers – not so easy. But, here we go. Maybe one sandal is on already.