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Shoe Stuffing

All Scott ever wanted was bigger feet … or at least the appearance of them.

Scott was a resident at the youth treatment facility I worked at and was definitely different than the other boys. He had sparse bits of hair. He was hard to understand because of his slurred speech. He had a very poor complexion, to put it lightly. He stood a towering five feet tall and maybe weighed 100 pounds. Scott was the first to be picked on and the last to be chosen. I have never felt so sorry for one single person.

On one particular Friday night, Scott had been given a voucher to go get some brand new clothes, from outerwear to footwear. He was more than excited and ran to get ready. After being gone for two hours, Scott returned and was anxious to show the group, and me, the apparel he had acquired.

Scott showcased his new shirts, new jeans, new coat and new sweater. Then he highlighted the shoes that were on his feet, which seemed to be clown-like in their proportions. There was no way that his feet were that big, but when I pressed on them, I felt his toes so I didn’t think anything of it.

The next day, however, Scott asked for pain medicine because he said his feet hurt. I asked him about his new shoes, and he refused to take them off and said they were not the issue. When I finally persuaded him to remove his shoes, I inspected them to find the most hilarious and yet sad reality.

Scott had left the paper wads inside of his shoes. He had been scrunching his toes together so that he could wear these normal-sized shoes. I pulled Scott to the side and was shocked to hear his heart. “Maybe I won’t be last to be picked if I have the same shoes as everyone else,” Scott said. My heart broke as I saw this teenager just wanting to belong, knowing that life had not dealt him a fair hand.

As ridiculous as it is that Scott was wearing shoes with paper wads stuffed inside, I am guilty of doing the same. Depending on the crowd I am with, I find myself scrunching up various aspects of my personality or character to fit in with those who I am with. In my efforts to not be the first one picked on or the last one chosen, I am willing to compromise, to pretend or to exaggerate so that I can simply fit comfortably in the middle.

But Scott was made to be more than that. We were made to be more than that. We were meant to be who God created us to be: just as we are. We were never intended to fake our way through life, pretending to be something or someone that we aren’t. Unfortunately, the expectations of others or the image-driven nature of our culture gives us a false mirror that we hold ourselves up to in comparison. And the effects are paralyzing.

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To go against this cultural grain takes constant effort, time and belief. It takes believing in the Creator who made you to be who you are and trusting that He knows what He is doing and has a plan in mind. Ultimately, it takes the Holy Spirit to bring healing to the distorted images that we have of ourselves and of others.

To find this, we must search the Scriptures for what God says about us. Not that we are anything great in our own selfish nature. But, by the grace of God, the Bible is a love story that defines us. We were created in His image. A passionate God has pursued us since the beginning of time. And even after the Fall, God gave the ultimate sacrifice to make up for our mistake. It is this truth that we must dwell on, meditate over and believe every day.

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