I’ve spent most of my life fulfilling the requisite good girl shoes. I aimed to please, be it in performance (athletics, academics) or character (a good mom, good wife, good friend). It’s been a constant striving for Right or Best, whichever standard might be higher.
Which means that as I grew in the faith, I placed a high value on believing the right things and falling into line with correct standards of thought and behavior. I accepted beliefs and understandings about the world because I heard sound arguments, but also because believing else would put me on the outskirts of Correct. Note: not orthodoxy. (If I’ve learned nothing else in the past 4 years, it’s that in both child development and theology, the Range of Normal is larger than you think.)
I systematically swallowed the beliefs. I set standards for my life that fit like an uncomfortable pair of shoes and now I have blisters. It’s rubbed me the wrong way for much too long. And I’ve met a few people running barefoot that have freed me to bare my soles. And my soul.
It wasn’t a sudden shift. No major life event began to sway me. But the steady progression and observations of the world changed my understanding of, well, everything. People, God, how we’re all in this together but yet how badly we sometimes fail. I’ve fallen in love with good people who don’t name Jesus and I can’t help but believe that it’s Jesus is in there somewhere, nameless, but doing His work. And the goodness they’re living sometimes surpasses what we see from the people wearing the Jesus t-shirts.
I’m finding “core” beliefs that don’t mesh well with my center, largely around how we (the Jesus group) treat people. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I hear a message that says, “If you’re not like us, there’s no room for you here.” And I’m just not sure I believe the ways that we ask people to be like us are fair. Or right. Or good.
These barefoot people, they’re unapologetic about believing something other than what they’ve been taught. Most recently it’s been Sarah Bessey
and how she feels women can be valued in ministry. And Tony Jones
wonders if redemption is more than Get Out Of Hell Free. I’m finding so much freedom in the stories of Jen & Brandon Hatmaker, Shane Hipps, and NT Wright because not only do large pieces of my heart agree and have been validated, but I’m finding inspiration to vocalize my own uncertainty in previously established positions.
I find comfort in their humble yet secure attitudes; they offer explanation but not defense. And they make no attempts to evangelize their positions, only an offer to join. I appreciate their willingness to blaze trails, because those of us new to a barefoot perspective often have sensitive feet.