Lessons from Shoe Shopping

I took my younger daughter shoe shopping last week. I hate shoe shopping. If you asked me to go shoe shopping, it would be at the absolute bottom of things I want to do. I have hard-to-fit feet, and shoe shopping has always been an agonizing experience. It's not any fun to go from store to store looking for a pair of shoes and leave empty-handed. We once went to more than 20 shoe stores when I was a kid looking for a single pair of shoes that would simply stay on my feet.

So, taking my daughters shoe shopping is a double dose of torture. Not only do I have to go shoe shopping, but I have to take into account another person's feet and interests.

But, last week, we couldn't put it off any longer. My daughter had to have shoes. Hers were too small, and they had holes in them. So, off to the shoe store we went. We left an hour later -- with no shoes.

You see, every pair of shoes in the shoe store that fit my budget didn't fit either my daughter's taste or her comfort. We probably tried on a dozen pairs of shoes, but every single one had something "wrong" with them. As you can imagine, my patience with her was wearing thin. It was dinner time. We had been shopping for an hour by the time we hit the shoe store.

Then, she found a pair of shoes she loved. They were colorful. They were comfortable. They were $5 more than the budget I had given her.

I patiently explained that those shoes weren't in my budget. I explained that if she wanted them, she could spend $5 of her own money to keep the shoes within my budget. She didn't like that. She didn't want to spend her own money, even though she had plenty. She simply wanted me to provide the shoes she wanted, when she wanted them, regardless of the price.

So, we left without shoes. She wore her holey, too-small shoes to school again the next day because I thought it was more important that she learn the truth about a budget than it was that she have a new pair of shoes.

Our society tells our kids they can have everything. It tells them they can have it all right now. Want to watch a movie? Stream it immediately online. Hungry? Grab some fast food. Tired? Take some 5-Hour Energy or drink a caffeinated beverage. Want something you can't afford? Use a credit card.

But there's value in teaching our kids to wait. There's value in helping them learn that some things require effort. There's value in helping them learn that sometimes we have to save for what we want. When we teach our kids the value found in waiting, we teach them to patiently wait for God.

It's so easy to get ahead of God. It's so easy to jump out and do our own thing and go our own way and expect God to bless that. However, the best way to live is right in the shadow of God's wing, right in the center of His plan. We can only do that if we let Him lead, and sometimes that means we have to wait for His timing, for His leadership.

When we teach our children that they can't have everything they want in the moment that they want it, we teach them self-control. We teach them patience. We teach them how to wait, and those are all skills they need to be able to wait for God.

We want our kids to be able to live out Psalm 27:14: "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." We can only do that if we run counter to what the world teaches about immediate gratification, and we teach our children to wait.

We did eventually get shoes for my daughter. On a different shopping trip, on a different day, she found a pair that fit the budget, her feet and her sense of style. But in the process, she learned a valuable lesson about patience and waiting.