When I first went to physical therapy for my knee injury last spring, Physical Therapist Dude looked at my rather clean gym shoes and asked if they were new, presumably to investigate whether or not these new shoes were the cause of pain. That would make sense. Different running shoes have different soles, and they can effect different bodies differently. Nonetheless, I was quick to tell Physical Therapist Dude that these shoes were new, but they were the same brand of shoes I had been wearing for years, so they were not different. The old pair was worn out, used and ready to be replaced, so I quickly stopped by the sports store one day on the way from here to there, tried on some shoes of Brand X that I always bought and went on my merry way.
Several months later and the mysterious knee pain still lingering around to be the source of much frustration, I wrote down the times when my knee hurt the most and when it felt pain free for several days in a row. I wanted to figure out if I was doing anything that was causing my knee to hurt or not doing something that would make it better. I noticed several patterns. One of those patterns is that when I wore those same “new” shoes consistently, my knee hurt more. I don’t wear gym shoes as often when I’m not running and working out regularly, but I do still wear them for my job and the occasional day when yoga pants are as “dressed up” as I get to run errands. Yup, it happens.
Despite the injury, cause or reason behind my knee pain, it’s hard not to wonder if my shoes had anything to do with it? Upon recognizing this fact – or at least based on my own, uneducated speculation – I got rid of the shoes. And if there’s any validity to this theory, I should have thought more about the shoe question months ago.
But you see, I was so quick to say, “nope, same old shoes,” that there was no room for questions about the shoes. They were the same brand name, but were they the same model? Had the soles been redesigned? Were the same year’s shoes, just a second pair as the lasts one I wore? Had anything changed about the shoes that could have at all effected my knee? Possibly, yes. But my quick, shut-the-door response ended that conversation, even though I was asked multiple times I went to physical therapy because my shoes remained so clean, white and new looking that they were cause for curiosity. I was barely wearing them outside of those 1-hour, every-other-week inside sessions.
I failed to consider that the shoes, though probably not the entire cause of this knee pain, could have been a small factor. Until I saw the theme. The theme of the questions from months ago. The week at middle school summer camp when I wore those shoes almost every day and was in terrible pain. The two weeks in abroad when my knee felt fantastic, and I was wearing other shoes. How when the weather in the evenings started to get cooler, and I wore those to middle school youth group or to run errands instead of flip flops….and my knee hurt more regularly. Then there was the middle school fall retreat where I wore other gym shoes, and my knee felt great. Were the shoes, somehow, even in the tiniest way, contributing to my stubborn knee?
Yes, themes. Themes of pain and no pain. Themes that are hard to miss. For the past several years, maybe even a decade or so, I’ve noticed themes. Themes when God seems to be wanting me to understand some characteristic of His or some opportunity to live out my faith in a way that takes intentionality or is worth noting, but I just don’t get it. Not at first. I ignore the hinting, “are these new shoes” questions because my finite mind doesn’t argue with but rather ignorantly fails to notice that it could be something to which I should pay attention. I walk on by thinking, “nope, not me.”
It’s not because I think I’m above it or too good to notice, I just don’t stop to smell the roses. I generally am too excited or too focused on something else to take note of what God is trying to do, living as if I must be right, so it takes months and months of the same thing for me to notice the theme that’s smack dab in front of my face. Or in this case, on my own two feet.
Why is this perhaps not the best habit for someone who calls him or herself a Christian, someone who wants to love God and love others? Perhaps because we subconsciously doubt the Lord and the role He has in our lives. If we only let the Lord be Lord when we want him to be Lord and are not acknowledging His authority and wisdom in all areas of our lives, we miss out on what He’s trying to tell us. What good and perfect gifts He has for us, all because we say, “nope, not me.” Our failing to recognize God’s voice and authority until it’s so obvious we can’t ignore it that we’ve been going in the wrong direction or missed out on all kinds of good things. Fortunately, we have a relentless God who loves us so much that He doesn’t give up until we get it. And it’s good.