Communicating our questions, hopes, and fears in prayer makes them—even to ourselves—more open and clear…
- Jimmy Carter
While on vacation in Vermont, I went for a walk down a rural road with my daughter Elizabeth. The opportunity presented itself unexpectedly, and I was eager to spend one-on-one time with my girl. So I slipped on my sneakers without bothering to go upstairs and find socks.
A mile or so along, I could feel a few bits of grit in my shoes. That was irritating, but not bothersome enough to stop and figure out how to take off the sneakers, shake out the tiny rocks and put the shoes back on while standing on a dirt road. And since I was enjoying my walk, I assumed it didn't matter much.
But by the time we got back to the farm I had a problem. Each grain of grit had created a painful hot spot on my soles, and there was a full-fledged blister on the ball of my right foot. As I hobbled about I remembered the saying, “It’s not the mountains that will wear you out, but the pebble in your shoe.” It was painfully true.
As I said my prayers that night, I reflected that sometimes I think more about mountains than pebbles in my walk of faith. I assume that what’s getting in the way is some lofty spiritual problem, when really it’s the gritty fact that I'm irritated with my husband and haven’t fully reconciled with him. I get frustrated that my prayer life isn't more elevated, forgetting that my conversations with God would go better if I used my free time at the food pantry instead of on Facebook.
The pebbles in our spiritual shoes are just like the ones that work their way into our sneakers: small—and removable. It doesn't take much to stop and figure out how to shake some of the grit out of our souls. And our walk will go better when we do.
Julia Attaway is a freelance writer, homeschooler and mother of five. She is the editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. She lives in New York.