White Sandals

(I wrote this back in 2012; a recent conversation reminded me of the sandals story again.) 
Sometimes we’re taught, by well-meaning people, things that are not true, things that in the end may hurt us and shatter our worlds. Things that, when scrutinized, do not stand the test of time. And I am reminded of the white sandals incident.

Three years ago, my family attended a wedding. The ceremony was outdoors, in a park. It was mid-July, a hot day. The bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome, love was in the air, and so on. After the ceremony, there was a two- or three-hour break until the reception. I offered to take my sister to the beach. My sister is mentally-challenged and functions at about age three.We drove the short distance to the beach. I was wearing a black and pink dress and strappy black sandals with heels. I realized she was wearing white sandals. I didn’t want her to get the sandals dirty in the sand, so I told her to take them off. I might have even offered to carry them.

We walked past people who were sun-tanning, playing volleyball, swimming. A man lying on a towel stopped me. He asked if he didn’t think it was too hot for my sister to be walking in the sand. I didn’t know. She hadn’t said a thing. I forget sometimes that she will go along with almost anything anyone tells her. She’s just like that. And I generally don’t go to beaches that often, and therefore I don’t often walk on sand or know just how it can be scorching it might become.

The point is, I thought I was doing a good thing. I did not want my sister to get her sandals dirty. I didn’t think twice that her feet might be hurting.

That’s how I see it now – all these things I was taught by pastors, teachers, leaders, parents, friends, over the years. We grow up with certain beliefs, we don’t really question them, we get set in our ways, we’re surrounded by people with similar ideas, and…soon, we don’t even realize what we’re doing and why. And then someone comes along and asks if we don’t think the sand is too hot to be walking on.

Having our faith questioned, doubted, scrutinized, shattered, is definitely not so easy to “fix” as slipping on those sandals and continuing a stroll on the beach. The thought-processing, the re-prioritizing, the sleepless nights, the searching, the lack of answers – not so easy. But, here we go. Maybe one sandal is on already.*
*Now, four years after I wrote this story…I think that both sandals are on. 
By Tania Kuehn