That's it. 2 inches. That's all it took to change my perspective completely.
My husband has always found me attractive in heels. Not that he doesn't find me attractive in flats, but heels, for whatever reason, turns his head a little quicker. I'm good with that. What I'm still not good with is the fact that heels are NOT comfortable. Heels, honestly, are the death of me. I would prefer to be in tennis shoes, slippers, or some sort of other flat shoe any day, any hour, any minute. But because I love my man and, to be quite honest, because there is something inside me that really does feel more feminine when I slip my feet into a pair of heels, I occasionally can be found wearing them. When I do wear them, as much as they cause me physical pain in my feet and back, I find that I totally dig my new perspective of everything around me.
If you don't know me personally, I would be what the world would call a "short" person. Some say "vertically challenged" to try to be more politically correct, but I'm good with "short". On a great day I'm 5 foot 2 inches. There are moments in life where being that short is really frustrating--like in a crowd of people, when doing group hugs, trying to reach things in tall cupboards, or slow dancing. There are also moments in life when being that short is awesome--like in an airplane seat, trying to squeeze through the opening of the child's twirly slide at the park to save your petrified child, or when sleeping in a tent while camping. All together, I am totally fine with being the height I am...I have no deep pain associated with my "challenge". However, it is simply amazing what putting on a pair of 2 inch heels can do to a person.
One Sunday, I put on a newer pair of black sandal heels and headed out the door. As I wobbled my way through the front doors of church, I shook the greeters hands and noticed I was actually almost eye-level with the female greeter. Weird, yet refreshing. When I made my way to the mailboxes I noticed I didn't have to reach quite so high to grab our mail. Nice. When we got to our places (no, they are not "assigned" even though we navigate to them each Sunday), I stood next to my man and realized I could see the tops of his shoulders. Interesting. Then we held hands...my arm wasn't bent to reach up to meet his. So relaxing. I could even see the stage up front without having to strategically aline myself to peer through the openings in the crowd. Wonderful. It didn't stop at church either. After church I had to run into the store super fast to grab some last minute needs for lunch. As I grabbed the shopping cart handle I noticed it felt so far away from me. Odd. Then I looked up and everything seemed smaller. Odd, again. And then I began to push the cart...wow, it was so much easier...I had more force on that baby from a taller angle. Amazing! Who the heck knew that being a simple 2 inches taller would completely change the way I looked at and experienced everything around me.
2 inches. It really can make that much of a difference. Our church is doing a series right now on a book/primer called The Tangible Kingdom by Matt Smay and Hugh Halter. It is an 8 week series challenging all of us to really see what Christ meant the "church" to look like, act like, serve like. It is about being a missional community...a missional Christian. It has been very eye-opening, challenging, and freeing in several ways already and we are only on week 2. To truly make these concepts come to life, many of us have committed to meeting in small groups to discuss the questions posed and the activities they encourage us to do. It is affirming the idea that what we hear and learn is so much better understood when action is put behind it.
A few weeks ago the sermon being preached from this book was discussing our view of other people around us. Unfortunately, we tend to be prideful in ways we don't always recognize on our own and we need the Holy Spirit to speak through others to open our eyes to the ways we are sinning. This would be one of those times for me. I needed that sermon. In summary, it was explained that Jesus hung out with sinners, the "least of these", aliens (foreigners), and/or tax collectors not because he felt sorry for them or wanted to help them out because he was so much better than them, but because he loved them and viewed them to be a creation of God that has impeccable honor. That those labeled in society as "sinners" were the same as anyone else in God's eyes--lost people who He miraculously made to be holy, dearly loved, and incredibly important to the Kingdom. That His sacrifice of life on the cross and resurrection out of hell was not just for me, but for them too. I was convicted deeply...I was not coming from the same perspective.
It's hard to admit when you are wrong. When you are prideful. When you are viewing yourself better than another person. For what it's worth, I'm openly admitting it here because I have already admitted to my Father in Heaven and He has forgiven me and I've found freedom from that sin. I have already absolutely loved being in the mindset Christ has always wanted me to be in. I view people differently now. I see them through the eyes of Christ in a way I never had before. When I'm shopping, I look at people who used to scare me with this huge desire to let them know they are so loved and so highly valued instead. I see someone choosing to live a different lifestyle than I and instead of condemning them in my head, I find something positive about their choices and commend them for that. Instead of seeing someone who is being rude to someone else and just wanting to hit them over the head, I want to speak Truth into their souls and watch God's power do a work in their attitude. I love it...it is refreshing and freeing. I don't have to be so nervous or scared or put-off because of their differences from me...I can love them for the beautiful creation God made them to be and help them see that in themselves.
This new perspective has been refreshing just like my new perspective was when wearing my 2 inch heels that Sunday. However, just like wearing 2 inch heels causes some pain and has sacrifices that come along with it (can I hear an "Amen", sisters?), so does taking on a new perspective with the people around you. It gets you out of your comfort zone and forces you to approach people you would have not been caught dead with before. It takes some guts to even smile at a person who might have sent shivers down your spine a day earlier. It doesn't come naturally or easily necessarily--it takes work and some pain, but those also make us grow stronger. Whenever Micah hears me complain about how much wearing heels hurts my feet and back he always says (half jokingly), "You know you just need to wear them everyday so your body becomes stronger and more used to using the muscles it takes to stand that way." Although that typically gets an eye roll from me, there probably is some truth to that statement. When you put yourself in a position that is not something you are used to daily, your body does have to strengthen new parts to help in the transition. Same is true for a mental shift...a soul shift...a heart shift. It takes time and uncomfortableness at first, but the efforts are worth the result.
So, the lesson was heard, but it was up to me to put it into practice. In one of the other sermons spoken for this series, it was also mentioned that much of Jesus' ministry happened "on the way" to a place or event. It was another challenge to be aware of what was going on around you when you are on your way to scheduled events on your calendar. Between this concept and the concept to view others with their true God-given value attached to their faces, I knew exactly what I needed to do. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I take my second-born to preschool. On the way I pass a factory where a group of workers are taking their lunch break outside. These folks scared me. I would literally feel a squirmy feeling in my stomach when we would pass by (insert ashamed feeling). I do not know them. I do not know their names, where they live, what they enjoy doing, what they believe, how many children they are feeding with the money from their job, or even if they have a car. I labeled them as less than me and somewhat "scarey" because they had grumpy, dirty faces, raggedy clothes, and were typically smoking (gasp...the horror of my thoughts--I know, I know.) The Monday after the sermon, however, I drove by like normal and it simply "clicked". These precious people were "on my way" to my scheduled event. These precious people were incredibly important to God and His Kingdom. These precious people were not scuzzy--they were dirty, tired, tattered and torn because they were WORKING HARD in that factory day in and day out. How sinful, prideful, horrible of me to view them as anything less. I asked God to forgive me right then and there and the freedom, love, and smile that came upon my face were certainly His grace and mercy washing over me. I knew what I needed to do.
I kept driving by that factory for a week or so and each time I drove by I viewed my new found "friends" in a whole different way. I would try to search out a face as I drove by and simply smile at that person. I would pray for God to grant them a great day at work and to bless their efforts. I would thank Him for opening my eyes and for taking away the nervous feelings in my stomach. I thanked Him for replacing those feelings with a desire to somehow tell these precious people how much they are loved. This week I tried to do that in a more tangible way. I called the office of the factory and asked the secretary about how many people would be in there on a given lunch break time. 80-100. 80-100 men and women who I could bless in a simple way. WooHoo! I gathered my supplies and began baking cookies. I finished the last batch up at 1 a.m. Yes, on one hand, baking cookies is an easy way to show another you appreciate them, but on the other hand, at 1 a.m. when I was dead tired of baking and just wanted to be getting precious sleep before my toddler would come to my bed at 6:30 a.m., I realized that no matter what you do, telling another person they are loved DOES take work.
The next morning, I had the joy of delivering over 120 cookies to that factory. I included a note that told them all how much I appreciated the hard work and dedication they were putting into their job and that I hoped these cookies would simply let them know they were appreciated. I also told them I was praying God would bless the work of their hands in many ways. I signed it with just my first name. I will never probably know the impact of that blessing, but that was not the point. The point was in the baking and delivering of those cookies, God blessed me already and I didn't need their approvals to feel good. I felt good because I knew I had done just what God had told me to do. My favorite part was hearing the one sort of flabbergasted question the secretary asked me as I placed plate after plate of cookies on the desk in front of her..."So....do you just love to bake or something?" My answer, "Nope, not really. I just wanted to let everyone know they are appreciated." I left that poor woman completely confused and totally blessed, I think, as she timidly thanked me as I headed out the door. L.o.v.e.d. it!
So, 2 inches, friends. 2 inches completely changed my perspective when I slipped on those heels AND when I shifted my heart-focus back to what Jesus has always desired it to be. Both were a bit painful but the view afterwards was breathtakingly new, freeing, and exciting to be a part of. I hope to leave you here with the challenge to look around you and decipher what areas in your life, what thoughts, what prayers, what relationships, what sinfulness needs a 2 inch shift from you today. When you discover where that 2 inch shift needs to happen, I challenge you further by asking you to DO something about it. Put on those heels no matter how painful it may be at first. Seek that forgiveness, bake those cookies, smile at that person so different from you, pray that prayer for the homeless person you just passed, or do whatever it is God is speaking into your heart of hearts. If your experience turns out anything like mine, you'll be blessed you did it and you won't want to ever go back.