Until I was nine years old, I lived in the country. Our little house was half a mile from the nearest paved road, and wound between cow pastures.
We lived there back in the olden days, when kids were sent out to play until supper time with no supervision. We learned to entertain ourselves with our imaginations (imagine that . . .), making houses in the woods with rooms outlined by tree roots sticking out of the dirt floor beneath; climbing to read books for hours in the swaying treetops; searching for crayfish in the cold creek; making matchbox car highways out of cracks in the parched dirt; and playing with innumerable litters of sweet kittens.
And how could I forget making mud soup in the old tire leaning up against the house after the rain, or trying to swing so high I’d loop right over the top of the swing set? (I never made it, but I never gave up!)
All of it done in bare feet. Grass, dirt, gravel, pebbles, it didn’t matter. I had some pretty tough toes!
I only wore shoes when absolutely required — we were either going somewhere or it was the dead of winter.
Jump ahead with me a few years. I now lived with my family in a neighborhood, where suburban life was a far cry from the country.
The nearest paved road was within a stone’s throw from our front door. Instead of pastures, our street was lined by sidewalks and houses right up next to each other on both sides. Downtown was only a short walk from home.
I realized quickly that NO ONE walked around bare foot, so I followed suit. Now I wore shoes everywhere!
One day I simply couldn’t take it anymore. I just had to feel the ground with the bare soles of my feet! I walked a few blocks away and right into a stream that ran through town. It was heavenly!
Then on my way home I discovered why everyone wore shoes.
I stepped on a big piece of broken glass, and had to hobble the rest of the way home with a deep gash in the bottom of my foot. After that, my outdoor bare feet were rarely seen, and I became a tenderfoot. I still slip on a pair of clogs just to walk in my own yard!
Why is it that single painful memories so easily overpower innumerable pleasant ones, changing the way we perceive what might happen? Emotional angst in response to a painful memory screams louder to be heard over the blur of countless calm, peaceful ones, making it easier to hear.
What might happen if we stopped to pay more attention during our calm, peaceful moments, committing the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings to memory? Would it give us more strength to resist the fear of what might happen (but probably won’t) that tries to overcome us?
I think it’s worth a try.
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.James 1:17 NLT
This is one of my favorite verses, because it reminds me that everything good, no matter how small, is worth thanking God for. “Everything good” includes calm, peaceful moments that just may far outnumber our painful ones, and even far outweigh them if we allow them to.
And with that, I think I hear the soft backyard grass calling my toes.