Why Relationships Matter to Me … and Why I’m a Tennis Shoe

What kind of shoe are you?

I’m definitely a tennis-shoe kind of person. I try to be someone else — I once spent an entire year trying to be a “city girl” — but the truth is, I’m happiest in jeans and tennis shoes. And a hoodie. I have way too many hoodies.

My sister-in-law says that if she was as short as me (Which, by the way, is a FALLACY. I’m 5 foot 4. Almost. Not exactly tiny. Unless you come from my husband’s amazon family.), she would always wear super-high heels. Like, 4 inches. And let’s be honest — in my head, I’d like to be the kind of person who wears the exactly-right heels for every occasion. I’d be the kind of person that people NOTICE. People would remember me. Every aspect of my outfit would be planned right out.

But I’m not. Sigh. I have very few actual outfits. For me, it’s jeans and whatever goes with the jeans. A t-shirt or sweatshirt, if I feel like I can get by with the tennis shoes. And jeans and a nicer shirt with maybe flip-flops if I feel like I need to look serious. Or more mature. That’s me. Simple, but always wishing I wasn’t.

But maybe I’m the kind of person that other people feel comfortable with. I’d love to think that they feel like they could walk a mile by my side. Without feeling judged. With lots of laughs.

So, why am I rambling on about shoes?

I just had a really good weekend. I get tons of energy from relationships. I love to be with people, laugh with people, learn about what makes people tick. It motivates me so much. And we got to have that kind of weekend.

We got to hang out with some of our best family-friends. Siblings, and their spouses. And their offspring. And then tonight, we had some younger (not that we’re old — we don’t even round to 40 yet) couples at our house. And we got to talking about things that none of us knew about each other. Lots of laughs.

Anyway, I was so happy after they left. I was so motivated by each one of them. By their uniqueness. By their different stories.

One friend who was here is just such an INDIVIDUAL. I’m still trying to figure out what makes her tick. But that’s what I love about her. There are so many layers. She’s really good at listening, but she rarely reveals. So when she does, you listen. She wears old leather flip-flops. If she’s wearing any shoes at all, that is. Sometimes, she brings slippers or warm, tall socks to wear at our house.

Another friend was wearing sturdy shoes. She came from work — the kind of job where you’re always on your feet. She’s the kind of person that always tells it like it is. It can be uncomfortable. But you never have to wonder what she’s thinking. And she makes me laugh like few people do. She lights up the room.

My sister often wears slip-on shoes (comfortable ones). Even tennis shoes, she keeps laced loose so she can pull them on quickly. She’s a get-it-done kind of person. She always has a purpose. She creates a schedule for herself, and she sticks to it! No excuses. But I love that the one thing she does take time for is people.

My husband is not really someone you’d think of as trendy. But he totally pulls off his Pumas. It’s this little bit of strong personality coming through. I love it, because it’s so like him. When you first meet him, you think of him as very serious about life. But he’s got a spark. He can be really funny. And really trendy, apparently. He’s passionate about everything, the least of which is his footwear.

My daughter wears whatever’s easiest. She hates to tie shoes, so she usually wears flip-flops. But she never, ever stops to think about whether they match. She doesn’t care. She just wants life to be low-maintenance. She wants to go with the flow. She wants to make sure that she never holds anyone up.

One of my baby nephews is always barefoot. His parents are the way laid-back kind who think every new experience is good for the kid and not something to be feared. He’s not 2 yet, but he can walk across gravel and hot pavement without shoes and without so much as a whimper. Nothing holds the kid back. His little feet are like leather.

And I wear tennis shoes. Because there’s nothing worse than being somewhere and not being able to do something because of your footwear. (“Let’s go for a walk,” says a friend. “I can’t walk far in these shoes.”) And I like to be able to move fast. I often keep my tennis shoes on all day.

So this is my thought for tonight: I love how different people are. I love how God created us to all be unique. And I know it sounds really cliche, but special. We all have something that makes us different and unique and special. Sometimes you have to dig to find it — let’s face it, most of us are pretty good at looking the same on the outside — but it’s so, so worth it when you do.

This week, I’m going look for the best thing about each person I have close contact with. And if I’m brave enough, I’ll even tell them about it. Yes, that includes the annoying student that I seem to get stuck with semester after semester. (He wears black tennis shoes, by the way.) There’s beauty there, too. I’m sure of it. I just have to take the time to look.

About Kendra