To inspire you with your very own prayer closet, I'm sharing the story of my personal closet. I call it my Shoe Sanctuary. Enjoy!
My Shoe Sanctuary
by Fowler Robertson
I’m an addict. I have an eye for stylish heels, stilettos, platform boots, wedges and colorful flip-flops. I have more shoes than clothes to wear them with. When I visualize a half off sale tag my body goes into a mission mode of shoe shambles. Gleaming gold flats, polka dot pumps and buckled boots line my closets. I even have a little black shoe book kept discreetly in a side pocket of my purse when I need a fix…names, numbers, brands, colors, sales, underground shops. I can tell you my worldly travels by looking at my shoes. They each have a story.
In the corner of my long narrow closet are the blue sling sandals I purchased half off. There was only one pair left…my size. I declared it a sign from God! In the other corner are my brown patent Mary Jane’s. Ka-ching! Outlet sale 70% off! It was like Michael Kors himself, the patron saint of Diva footwear whispered in my ear. “NEED!” And being an obedient child of God, I bought them.
My all time favorite pair of shoes are my infamous red glitter heels. I’m not sure why, but when I put them on it’s like crossing a flaming line of fire and the yellow bricks turn to bling and I turn into Dangerous Dorothy. The devilish sparkles summoned my attention on the display rack. I felt a surge of energy when I tried them on. My toes screamed …. "HOME!”
My ankles said “Girl, you look fine!” In the blink of a eye– my bank account was negative sixty eight dollars and fifty two cents.
Shoes are like magic in a box. Anytime I feel depressed, edgy or out of sorts my heels start clicking and I know that Dorothy is calling my name. Click…Click.! The smell of leather intoxicates my senses and transports my soul to a place of sheer delight. I admit–I’m hopeless when it comes to shoes. For many years I appeased my moods and lavished life’s up’s and down’s by ringing up a new pair of shoes. My quest for that ‘home’ feeling was purchased and satisfied temporarily with a ‘soul of a different kind. The sole’s of my feet.
■Every purchase–the pain of my life strapped and bound, boxed in, accumulating wounds, shoe after shoe building a wall of protection.
■The daily pressures of being a single mother became a pair of black leather straps—a band aide of bondage.
■The hurt of rejection became shiny silver stilettos—like a spring loaded sword too painful to bear.
■The weariness of worry turned into a pair of corked platform beige wedgies— elevating my soul with a sole of uncertainty.
■Running from life’s lessons tagged me a half off sale with a pair of Nike Air Max Skyline’s — shoes to keep me running in fear of tomorrow.
■The regret of my past decisions became a purchase of leopard pumps—a print to hide the shame.
Every problem…a shoe. Every heartache…a shoe. Every burden…a shoe.
Stacked in my closet–stacked in my heart.
It was bound to happen…
I awoke one day feeling like mental toast. To many problems, too much stress. To discard the feelings I opted to reward myself with a new pair of sandals so I skipped in my bare feet to ram sack my skyscraper closet and head to the nearest sale. I grabbed a pair of kitten heels and sat down on the beige shag carpet to put them on. Suddenly I was struck with an odd feeling unknown to me. I felt the weight of every shoe upon me hard and heavy. My heart started to hurt and a wide assortment of feelings began to emerge bubbling up. I was overwhelmed and didn’t understand what was happening. I had always managed to snuff my feelings undercover…or buy shoes…but at that moment–nothing was held back. I went into survival mode but the emotion was too strong. I buckled under the pressure- I thought for sure I must be dying.
The total insanity of the moment came through when my first thought was;
“Okay Lord, take me home if you're ready…just let me get my heels on first!”
Really? It was then I felt the blow of what seemed like a two ton platform falling on my head. I swear Jesus had it out for me in that moment. I mean, really, ...I never understood why he only owned one pair of sandals to begin with. That is complete blasphemy in my shoe diary.
I cautiously looked up for the next reeling boot. The stacks of shoe boxes surrounding me. And then it happened. My eyes and heart opened for the first time. I saw each shoe for what they actually stood for–a problem, a burden, a pain, a hurt, a wound, a worry. Stack after stack, box after box.
Each pair replaced a problem I could not face and now the city of shoes was collapsing around me. I wept like a child.
In that moment, in my closet I felt the secret embrace of a Savior I had never known before. I knew Jesus…but I didn’t KNOW Jesus. I could tell you all about a buckle strap, a leather print sling, but I couldn't tell you about a Savior, not much anyway. Everything changed.
I thought I knew about this man, this God, this savior.
That day In his arms I heard a whisper that my heart and soul will never forget. I heard the King speak and for the first time in my life–I was open to receive it, intimate, vulnerable. I surrendered. I opened myself up–I let go. I do admit, it was rather hard to turn loose of those platform wedgies–but the Lord said I had to die to myself in order to gain new life. So I did. I just hoped my new life contained Prada's new line of stilletto's.
“Child, another pair of shoes will not fill your soul or mend your hurts. I know every path your feet have tread. Do you know why the shoe fits–but the heart still hurts and the soul is still empty?” The King spoke while my closet rumbled.
"Nooooo." I spoke with a pout and fear that I'd never buy another pair of shoes again. My life was over, ruined.
"It’s because I belong there. I can fit and fill your deepest need. Walk with me. Come to me with your fears, hurts and worries. I will be there –I will help you, if you let me. Let go–but don't buy a shoe to replace me." He said. "And by the way…quit asking for Prada–it’s not gonna happen.”
In that intimate moment of shoes laces and soul transformations, I laughed and I cried. I blubbered and spewed, fret and frattered. I spilled out a lifetime of words, regrets, insecurites, problems, desires, dreams and questions. Then I sat in the shadows of the silence of my little closet and listened. It was surreal, a safety, a comfort. I reached behind me, flipped off the lights and closed the closet door. I sat in darkness surrounded by a devastated city of sandals, pumps and straps–now in ruins all around me. A flood of tears torrential in nature poured from a place so deeply within–only God could have released it and healed it so that it didn't kill me on the spot.
And there I was sitting with a savior amongst smelly leather, suede and vintage fabric. He held me in a sanctuary of shoes and solitude. My God…my Savior…my first love.
Years later there is nothing that compares to the love I have received from Jesus Christ…not even the prettiest pair of patent leathers on sale–no matter what the Patron Saint of shoes whispers in my ear. HUSH Michael Kors! Hush! Today I can come out of the closet with a new outlook on life, a new spirit and a new approach to my shoe purchases. KA-CHING!
I still meet Jesus in our secret place. It has become a private hideaway from phones, computers, kids, television, people and distractions. It enables me to really have an intimate, no holds barred, all-out-don’t-hold-anything-back conversation with God. I cry…I mumble…I question…I argue…I surrender. It has helped me to get away from those short, non-personal, ritualistic, brief insignificant prayers I used to mumble before bed and fall asleep halfway in. I'm still questioning Jesus about those sandals though.....he has yet to answer me however. He just shakes his head.
So for the better part, today my closet is much more than just a place to stash shoes. It calls me, beckoning me to its darkness with a whisper, a peaceful voice, a sanctuary of intimacy and closeness which my soul cannot resist. It isn’t the smell of leather, or slick black patent pumps that draws me to the closet. It’s the presence of the Almighty God in the solitude of the moment wooing an overburdened woman to remove her sandals and step upon holy ground. I sit in the sanctuary and lay upon the pierced feet of a sinless savior. He tells me I am loved and valued. I have worth and purpose in this life.
A crucified King who once stood amongst sawdust and shavings now stands in my closet…
A simple man in peasants garments and roped sandals waits for me in our secret sanctuary. He had no money, no servants, and no silver spoons. His bare feet immersed in the muddy waters of Jordan. His stride stepped across waves on the Sea of Galilee. He did it for you. He did it for me. Feet well calloused, well worn, well traveled.
A man with one purpose, one vision, one direction.
A man who removed his sandals, to remove our sin.
Feet bruised, battered and pierced. Rusty nails couldn’t hold him, love did.
He bore the marks, he paid the price, to bare it all.
When the world overwhelms me, my heart aches, my feet hurt and my soul feels lost–
I know where to go.
That small voice whispers from the closet.
I run. I open the door of my shoe sanctuary. I fall into his arms.
He is always there…even among heels and flip-flops.