There are two situations in life when strangers tend to bare their souls—When you’re sitting next to them on an airplane and when they see you wearing a black orthopedic boot.
I consider myself attractive, but my feet—that’s another story. I remember when my first serious boyfriend saw me in sandals. After choking with laughter, he howled, “Your feet, they look like hands.”
I’m not sure why God gave me size 10, flat, narrow feet with abnormally long toes, but I think it has something to do with His sense of humor. What would the world be like if we were all completely normal. Quite boring, I imagine.
As a child, I longed for a daintier pair of feet. In middle school, we read about foot binding in China. I thought this might be the cure to my rapidly growing feet but decided I couldn’t’ endure having my toes broken and bound underneath my soles with bandages.
Eventually, I accepted my “sasquatch feet” (as affectionately referred to by my father). I learned how to avoid drawing attention to them by not painting my toenails or wearing open toe sandals. I mastered the art of bending my double-jointed toes underneath my feet. This especially came in handy when encountering a cute guy on the beach.
I never imagined that my feet could get any uglier, but they did. After years of wearing shoes not made for big, flat, narrow feet, I developed a matching pair of bunions at the base of my big toes. These bony protuberances stuck out like sore thumbs. To make matters worse, they caused my toes to angle outward, giving an odd slant to my feet.
Not only did bunions make my feet look like Tyrannosaurus Rex remains, they hurt. It became impossible for me to wear heels or anything not made of soft leather or rubber. I knew I had to do something to alleviate the pain.
Although I’ve never been a fan of the knife, I decided to take the plunge. I selected the most painful foot for surgery. After a speedy outpatient procedure and one week in bed, I was up hobbling around with newly embedded screws in my foot.
As I ventured out into the world wearing my black orthopedic boot, I noticed right away that something was different. Strangers smiled at me. Many stopped to ask, “Did you bleed much?” “How long do you have to wear that boot?” “Are you in pain right now?” “Who did your surgery?
Some took off their shoes to show reveal their own battered feet.
“Look, I need surgery too. Eventually I’ll get up the courage.”
“Were your bunions as bad as mine?”
“See my hammer toe and ingrown toenails. Does your doctor work on those too?”
I was surprised that people were so willing to expose their feet, many of which were more hideous than mine. For years, I hid beneath clunky clogs and tall boots, but strangers were unabashedly exhibiting some of the grotesque deformities I’d ever seen. I wondered where their confidence came from.
I thought about Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. He didn’t say, “No, John. Step aside. You have corns and calluses.” Or “Luke, I don’t want to touch your sweaty feet and nasty bone spurs.”
He demonstrated that he is willing to touch us, even in places we’re not proud of. He is willing to love us—bunions and all.
When the Savior gazes at us, he doesn’t see our deficiencies. He sees the beauty of our souls. The imperfections of our earthly bodies are of little concern to Jesus. After all, He promises to one day give us beautiful eternal ones.
I Cor. 15:50-52, “…Let me tell you a secret. Not all of us will die, but all of us will be changed— in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will be raised never to decay, and we will be changed.”
When my orthopedic doctor gave me permission to retire my black boot, I had my toenails painted. Two years later, I am wearing bright red polish and open toe sandals. I no longer view my feet as a shortcoming but as proof of God’s unconditional acceptance. I rejoice in my imperfections because they are a reminder of God’s love.
Thank God for ugly feet.
Copyright 2010 by Dwan Reed. All rights reserved.