When I was a little girl going to junior high for the first time growing up in the 80’s, I had to buy a new pair of shoes. This might not sound like a big deal, but it was to me. I had to find the “perfect” pair. Why? Because I could only afford to own one pair of everyday shoes.
I had to locate the best “good enough” shoes for the lowest price. I’d walk the entire mall, search every store on every level, and scour every sale rack to find the cheapest, best shoes. It was a lot of work and very stressful. I was afraid to commit to a pair until I’d shopped the whole mall. I’d feel anxiety, fearing the pair I spotted earlier might be snagged by another shopper. Sometimes, this sense of dread led me to commit questionable clandestine acts, like hiding shoes in different racks or splitting up a pair, to leave it orphaned and passed over.
I finally told my mom I found a pair of brown wedges that had the blue dot sticker for $7.99. I thought it was perfect with a pretty pinhole stitching design on the toe box. I imagined how cute it’d look with my jeans and puffy sweater. When we returned to the store, however, my mom pulled a blue pair of flats with a bow stuck in front from the $5.99 rack.
“Here, this pair is better,” she said. She stuck it out to me, like a stalk of celery she wanted to place into the plastic bag I’d have open for her whenever we went grocery shopping.
“But I like this pair, Mom.” I showed her all the features to plead my case.
“That doesn’t look so good. It’s common-looking. Why do you want to be like everyone else?” she questioned me. The shoes that looked so good a minute ago suddenly felt clunky and awkward in my hands.
I tried again, “The blue makes the shoes look like plastic. And that bow . . . ” My true feelings tumbled out. I don’t want to wear blue shoes, Mom.
“I think they look fine,” my mom said. “Don’t get those other ones. They look cheap on you.”
I went home that night, trying to tell myself the whole night – and the whole school year – my blue shoes were fine. But the truth was it wasn’t fine. I wasn’t fine.
I wasn’t confident walking down hallways between lockers. Although I told myself I ought to be thankful for my shoes, deep inside, I felt uncomfortable with myself. I wasn’t free to learn to find my own way, by making choices that aligned with who God made me, with my unique likes and dislikes. I incorrectly learned that obedience and love meant to hide my true self. I felt ashamed of my desires and my need to belong.
But God’s love is different. God’s cares about our emotional well-being. He values our needs and desires.
Just like Ruth never expected she would find a Boaz while gathering leftovers in the fields for Naomi, you are not forgotten. God hears the dream you dare to whisper in private.
God recently brought this memory of my blue shoes to surface as I thought about the new year and what I want to do. God wants us to know He sees that deep inside us, we all need love and words of affirmation.
Have you been thinking about the new year too? Maybe like me, you’re tempted to not hope for too much. Maybe you’re telling yourself to keep going in survival mode and not rock the boat with your dreams or your need for rest, peace, comfort, or joy.
As women, we often put our hearts to the side, but God sees beyond all we do and sees the deeper, beautiful things we long for, hide, and need. You are His beloved and all you hide in your heart is precious to our loving Savior.
God sees and loves your true self. He sees what you dream about and hope for. God understands what you’ve endured and what you’ve lost. He cares about your need for belonging and joy. God cares about your well-being.
So, as you look into the new year, prioritize nurturing your soul. See Jesus standing next to you, folding your hand tenderly into His as He whispers, You are worth loving.
I have loved you with an everlasting love.
Jeremiah 31:3 (NASB)
How can you take better care of yourself in the new year?
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God sees beyond all we do and sees the deeper, beautiful things we long for, hide, and need. - @thebonniegray: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Thank you Bonnie! My feelings exactly! I’m always trying not to rock the boat of my dreams… as to lose the comfort peace and joy.
The truth is it’s fleeting. There will be something or someone who tips the boat and doesn’t know anything about the reminents it left floating in the water behind them!
Jesus Christ is the only way to stay afloat and I’m forever grateful to Him \0/ He has seen my hidden dreams since childhood and I too have been in the department store, 2nd child of 7, with a single mom trying to afford cheap good shoes! I’m a thrift shopper today because of it:) I love this mom memory and at 85 my moms still shopping with that attitude! Well sort of.. ( she’s battling breast cancer and is tired and sleeping most days) but still she gets in a shopping trip here and there! Happy New Year ! May His lavish love keep you afloat with hope and peace and joy every day Bonnie!!!
Bonnie Gray says
May you feel God’s lavish love touch your heart too, Sadie! thanks for sharing your story!! your heart matters! love, bonnie
I can relate. Since I was little I’ve never been good enough. I was abused as a child and as an adult. I’ve dealt with two failed marriages, paying huge amounts of debts that weren’t mine, and living 28 yrs alone and feeling so unloved. It took me until this year, 2018 to realize that I am loved by my family and my church family. But my heart still longs for that special someone to love me. Am I wrong to want that? I know that Jesus loves me just the way I am. But I’m tired of being alone. I’m 60 yrs old. The older I become, the more I don’t want to be alone. Sorry for the rambling of my heart.
Beth Williams says
It is not wrong to want a special someone in your life. God puts all kinds of dreams in us. He understands better than anyone those dreams. Praying God sends that special someone your way this year. This may sound crazy but I found my hubby on internet. I know in my heart that He is God sent. I will pray for you this year. May you feel God’s loving arms around you tightly.
(((((Hugs))))) Blessings 🙂
I hear your lonely heart! I too have two failed marriages behind me. Took a long time to realize that that I was worthy of Gods love since no one else loved me! Still, hard to accept at 69, I hear your pain! I too would love to have someone special in my life that looks at me like I see others being treated and then I start praying and realize, if it is to be, He will make it so, if not He is enough for me! There is something special that He has for me to do and He doesn’t want me distracted! Anyway, that is how I am looking at it! My dear sister in Christ, lets pray for each other and all the other lonely people out there knowing He is always with us. We are never alone, even though we feel that way sometimes.
Marabeth Kuhn says
No it is not wrong to want to share your life, never give up that dream, continue to ask God to send someone, after being alone,for over 30 years, working 7 days a week I met and married one of my girlfriend’s widowed brother,we married after a short courtships, we lived 1000 miles apart! I am blessed to have a large extended family that I love like my own! Life is not perfect, but very good. By the way I am 75, married for 5 years. Prayers for your dream
Bonnie Gray says
Sweet Carol, I loved that each woman here has encouraged your heart – and I join in too! It’s never too late to be loved and wanting to be loved means your heart is tender and open! dear Jesus, I know you see Carol and I pray you encourage her and lift her up in the way she would feel your care best. In your amazing way, I pray you give her ideas on how she can take courageous steps in any relationship oppty you may send her way and I pray for you to send someone like you to love her. And in that lifting up of this prayer, I ask you give Carol peace, knowing you hear her prayers and you love and cherish her! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
I too shared these feelings. Finding clothing as a young adolescent was always stressful for me, given budgets, being ‘ the new kid’ in sixth grade, immature compared to my new classmates and wearing ‘ Chubbettes’ was always a stressful, embarrassing experience.
It took me years to transcend those feelings that sprouted a low self concept. Fortunately, I did finally shed pounds and grow into more self confidence.
Life is tough for young girls who endure this intitial falter in self worth, and it’s shadow remains in our hearts for years.
Thankfully, my faith and coming to understand God’s love for me regardless of my shortcomings, carried me into adulthood; a wonderful career and creating my own family. Faith, hope and love….The greatest of these is love( and self love). Thank you for sharing your heartfelt story, perhaps your story will help a young girl and her mother who also struggles with juggling a family budget and has lost some of her sensitivities as a result.
Bonnie Gray says
Yes, Lynda – that is my heart in sharing this story – that someone my friends who connect with this story in any way the Holy Spirit is touching them will be encouraged to know she is loved! thank you for sharing so openly your heart and sotry with me! Your sister in CA is waving hello with hugs to you, bonnie
Waving back with thank you’s And knowledge that your story has reached hearts
Gina Quintanilla says
What you said really touched my heart today! This is how I feel all the time. I am so afraid to let my true feelings show and not to rock the boat and let others see my true feelings. I always place my dreams on hold because I always feel I’m not good enough to have the small side business that I want because no one will buy the crocheted blankets I’ve made or other things. Ive not been made to feel like I’m good enough for this. I always feel like I’m not good enough to have friends because I feel so left out of everything and I’m never included. I feel like a failure most of the time and that God must not want me to to have this business right now.
Gwyneth Kramer says
Praying for you Gine, that you feel Gods love and nurturing in your spirit. He loves us with an everlasting love! He sees your heart and your struggles, just give them all to him. God loves you and wants to give you wisdom for your dreams to unfold this year. And I’m also praying for your friendships, that they see your needs to feel loved and included too. Hugs!
Beth Williams says
Thank you for being so open & honest about your struggles. You have helped many women learn to love themselves. I deal a little with low self esteem. It is hard at times for me to really love myself. Mistakes send me swirling with the lies “not good enough, stupid, dumb-why bother.” I feel women everywhere need to take care of themselves. We need to take time out of our busy lives & just do something special for us. It could be a walk outside, bubble bath, or listening to music. If we don’t care for ourselves then we won’t have anything to give to others. You said it best: God sees beyond all we do and sees the deeper, beautiful things we long for, hide, and need. He knows you better than you do. He is willing to give you what you desire & truly need.
Pearl Allard says
*tears* Bonnie, I don’t have the words to explain how deeply this touches me…please know God spoke to me through your post, and I’m incredibly grateful…please keep writing.
Becky Keife says
Bonnie, thank you for sharing this tender story with us. My heart is so stirred by your words and by the Spirit’s confirmation of God’s tender love toward us, His intimate care, and His active interest in our deepest needs and desires. I’m so glad you know the kindness of our Father. Much love to you, friend. xx
Oh Bonnie, as I read your words about the shoes, I could almost feel your pain. Although my life circumstances were different from yours, I grew up in a lower-middle-class family. My dad worked construction in NY. So if the weather was bad, there was no paycheck. As far as this new year, I have many things on the burner that I hope to complete. I wrote a short book for parents using direct quotes from my preschool students. It is a gentle reminder to put down your phone and listen to your kids. It’s called ‘The Funniest Things Kid Say in Preschool’. But I’m self-publishing it and still on that learning curve. Hopefully and prayerfully I will get it published this year. I want to thank you, Bonnie, for continuing to write. You have blessed me with your words more times than I can count.
Tina Mac says
This really hit home today, as I thought about spending most of my childhood as unwanted–despite being adopted! My mom sewed a lot of my dresses for school–and there was one she liked and I couldn’t stand it! Made me feel like a giant bumblebee! And I was thinking about how God always wanted me, no matter my choices and even when I didn’t know him…He was always there. And even while I am figuring out if my marriage is truly failed or not (God said wait, I’m waiting. Meanwhile, my husband is living with someone. UGGHH) God never rejects me!
Thank you. This is so encouraging to me.
I understand about the shoes, Bonnie…though my difficulty was in upper grade school. Jr High was a nightmare enough…the best part for me was my parents relocated from Sacramento to Northern Idaho when I was in 9th grade. Those people were the best!! And I moved from hell to Paradise truly…only for 1 year and we moved again. But that one year has made all the difference the rest of my life!! You never know how you might touch someone’s life…especially someone like me who was badly abused growing up. Those people who did, were angels to me!!
Thank you for writing so bravely and vulnerably. It helps so many of us to know we are not alone in what we feel and think. As I read all of these comments, I hear so much pain and deep longings. I want to share one of my favorite verses
“Don’t be afraid, city of Jerusalem.
Don’t be so discouraged that you can’t do anything.
17 The Lord your God is with you.
The mighty One will save you.
The Lord will be happy with you.
You will rest in his love.
He will sing and be joyful about you.” Zephaniah 3:16-17
May the Lord help us to know and believe the value we have in Jesus that cannot be affected by how anyone else sees us, treats us or values us., or even how we feel about ourselves.
Thank you Bonnie for that beautiful prayer to Carol. I too have two divorces and one breakup recently- both marriages were abusive in all forms. I broke down and cried out to my best friend and said I just want to be loved! And I have so much love to give. I’m 54 and live alone, I yearn to meet a man who loves Jesus as much as I do! But this time I’m listening to GOD- he has to be GOD sent this time
I just joined a singles ministry and I’m going on a Christian singles website
I’ll be praying for you too Ladies
Kathleen Burkinshaw says
Dear Bonnie, I am behind in my reading so am late to comment. Although my nativity and Christmas stuff is still up. Your posts always touch my heart. This one in particular, hits me at a time of year that emotionally depletes me. My mom passed away 4 years(doesn’t seem possible it has been that long),ago on the 15th of January. So this week brings back so many difficult memories and emotions if caring for her, and hospice involvement in those last months. There were tenders moments if love and I was in awe of her strength. But there are moments of did I do enough, should I have done something differently? It adds to the similar thoughts about myself and my actions that I have always had when starting a new year. Your words give me hope that I will hold in my heart knowing that Jesus is anchoring the rope I’m clinging to(some days tighter than others ). I just need to trust and know that I’m worth loving. Wishing you many blessings and much peace in 2019! Thank you ❤