I bought a pair of shoes yesterday. Nothing too profound about that.
Sneakers with Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom printed on them, to be precise.
The prophetic nature of my almost involuntarily triggered actions hit me later.
I saw a campaign on social media, which I thought was a really clever piece of strategic creativity. However, South Africa doesn’t always get in on the cool stuff launched internationally. So, working in the brand communication space, I shared the campaign on various work-related platforms for inspiration and made a (not really) joke about someone from the US please helping me to get my hands on a pair … this is all documented on Facebook and Instagram … so you know it really happened :).
Basically, I saw something I wanted, but I didn’t think it was actually within my reach. Either, it would be ridiculously over-priced to import, or physically unavailable to source locally.
Can you see where this is going …
Lo, and behold. I actually have friends in the US, so that would have been an option … but we actually do have the shoes in our stores, as one of my collegues pointed out to me. In-store promos and all. Go Vans and van Gogh Museum! We weren’t excluded from the cool stuff … go South Africa! :).
So, Friday after work, I got in my car, sat in silly traffic, and drove to a mall 30km away that has a store, to buy the exact shoes I saw and wanted without really even being too concerned over asking about the price. I had a amount in mind (birthday blessings …) that I would deem ridiculous to go over. But I just had a sense that it would be below that number, in my number …
Which it was. Only just. But hey. Count the cost …
I simply knew when I saw them that I wanted those shoes, and when a realistic opportunity actually presented itsself, it was a no-brainer. I jumped. Immediately. Having counted the cost for a long time leading up to the moment of action …
It’s not that I desperately needed another pair of sneakers. Let’s be real. I’m comfortable in the shoes I have. They’re great shoes. I’ve walked many a happy mile in these shoes …
It’s never really about the shoes, is it …
You see, since the season started to shift, I have been looking out for a new pair of sneakers.
Just casually, as one does when you have something on the back of your mind that you don’t actually need urgently, so you’re willing to wait and save up for the right thing … Saw a few cool options in shop windows, but it was never quite right … So, I passed. Didn’t even bother to try them on. I knew.
Swiped left, if I may.
(Sidenote: At my lifestage, one should know oneself well enough to not waste the shop assistant’s time with shoes you know you’re not going to invest in. Mini-selah.)
So, no. I didn’t impulsively fall for a clever brand campaign.
I just found what I knew I had been looking for, when I saw it.
Then I started the process of inquiery. To test if it was, indeed, meant for me … looks being deceiving and all that … And to my surprise and delight the doors opened … and the resistance crumbled … and now I have blue shoes with a cool story … *adds drama for effect* …
Do you see where this is going …
I was reminded about the year I got to study at Rhodes. And the time I got to do a graphic design course at Vega. Both, for free. One on a Reserve Bank bursary, the other as a trade exchange … Things I only realised how much I wanted to do when I did them. Both completely out of my financial reach at that stage, were it not for the divine appointments that lead to the opportunities …
I have had numerous occasions where things I thought I could never afford at all were made available in a way that I could access it, simply because God made a way. Things I really didn’t even know I wanted, and needed, for future doors to open.
Sounds a bit like grace, doesn’t it?
People sometimes ask me why I don’t push harder or compete more aggressively for the things I say I want now.
Well, I guess I’ve just learned to allow desire to be tested. And there’s nothing like time, resistance, and the impossibility of making it happen for yourself to do just that.
This is not to be confused with passivity or unbelief. I often act on desire. I just act with a fine-tuned ear out for the “abort mission” command. To try and avoid breaking a nose, or a heart, against a door closing in my face. Or ramming into a brick wall. Or sinning. Which are all less constructive plans of action than waiting for a good gift from Above.
I believe in having “dream big” and “follow your heart” bumper stickers. But I believe in sticking “test your motives” up alongside it.
God is faithful in His “no’s”, even during my times of stubbornly pursuing things not meant for me.
But on the other hand, I thought about all the other times in my life where something I dared to want, and wait for, became a realistic opportunity. I also know what a “Yes, now!” feels like. Often, after long periods of discouragement and disillusionment, faced with seemingly impossible situations, bolted doors, thwarted plans or just plain desert drought.
Grace. It’s all grace.
Peeps. Please tell me you get that it’s not about shoes.
It’s just been a really, really, really long time. Waiting. Longing. Leaving. Laying down. Letting go. So, a small, even silly glimpse of fulfilled “desire”, actually helps to sustain hope …
This morning, as I write to unpack this cry for a season shift, for newness, I remembered a poem my late godfather wrote in my autograph book in 1993 …
“Amandelblom in somerson,
die rostrumstance(sic) jou somersdroom.
Prestasie of wen is als wederom
want amandelblom se trots dra die lewenskroon …”
For those who missed it: Amandelblom means almond blossom …
It’s about knowing who you are, in becoming who you are created to be. I won some stuff in school. In fact, I guess #winning was my motto… the poem was sort of meant to encourage me that gifting is great, and winning is a noble goal to pursue, but that my value is not based on basking in the sunshine of standing on a podium … that be the context. I think. I may have just made that up. By hey. That’s what we do with poetry …
I never got the chance to ask what the poem was supposed to really mean. My late godfather, my late mother’s brother, passed away some time before my late father, his best friend. Lot of lates in that line. Loaded with lots of heart-ache. As you might imagine.
So, you grow up. #winning seems to get harder. And then, you’re 37, and you’re not so sure what #winning even really looks like anymore …
And those be the times where you need to find shoes with priceless masterpiece almond blossoms on them. Having waited, and being subconsciously on the look-out, for something that you didn’t even know existed.
To remind you about the inheritance of flourishing that has been spoken over your life. Paid for, in full, by the Only One who could afford it.
To make plain the revelation …
There are seasons in life where no one sees you wrestling with flesh to remain kneeling in submitted obedience, aching for a true conviction to act on, while fighting lies that present false fulfilment on a platter.
There are seasons that refine those convictions. For real desire to be revealed. For fake/fleshly greed/lust/pride/ambition to fall away.
Ephesians 2:10 “ For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
It’s about the faith that forms when you have to keep believing, for so much longer than you ever thought would be required, that “good things” are still meant, and kept, for you. To be released, again, in season.
Proverbs 13:12 “… but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”
To stand on the word that His plans with your life will be established, to serve the purposes of God in your generation. To know that your life, and your personal breakthroughs, matter in the bigger picture.
But that it’s not about you.
Ephesians 6:15 “… and shoe your feet with the readiness of The Gospel of peace.”
How’s that for taking tekkies to levels you never imagined they could go …
“Take courage. my heart. Be steadfast, my soul. He’s in the waiting …”
Isaiah 60:22 “… in its time I will do this swiftly.”