10 Days Without Shoes

Day 9…

LANDMINES! EVERYWHERE! No, not the kind that blow up, but the kind that dogs leave behind. Today, I’m walking down the concrete sidewalk next to my house, and I’m having to dodge dog poop. I don’t know about you, but I already get annoyed when people don’t pick up after their dogs at the park. But seriously people! You can’t pick up your dog’s poop off the sidewalk? And don’t tell me you didn’t notice, because I could see these logs for the past 15 feet and I could smell them for even longer! I mean really, what is this dog-owner thinking, “No one will notice the poop in THE MIDDLE of the sidewalk!” If only they could get charged with littering? Hmmm…

Another quite perilous challenge on my walk comes in the form of these little six-legged creatures that are swarming to my feet. Everywhere I step seems to trigger a code red on the local ant population’s homeland security meter. I’m already more at a jog than a walk because armies of ants are charging out of their nests to save the queen (makes me wonder if they’re British). So far I’ve been able to escape with minimal casualties to the ant population (not that saving ants is my goal), but if I had shoes on I would probably have stood my ground like a hero, fighting for the rights of walkers everywhere. But instead, I’m trying to run and swat at my feet and ankles to minimize the bites, which I’m sure looks very smooth from an onlookers standpoint!

My run-in with ants today, has brought up a very important question that continues to “bug” me. Why am I walking around barefoot?

I don’t have a perfect answer to this question yet, but I want to walk you through why I came up with this idea in the first place.

1. It makes me think about poverty, continuously. I have already shared with you how normally I don’t think about issues like poverty. My life is too busy and full of distractions. Going without shoes breaks up that rhythm. Normally, when I go to the bathroom, I don’t think about it. I just walk in, take care of business, and walk out. But over the past 9 days, every time I walk into the public bathroom and have to pick my steps carefully so that I don’t step in any surprises – I’ve been thinking about poverty. I’ve been thinking about all of the kids around the world without shoes, the moms without clean water, and the dads without a job that supports their families. So, in a way, going without shoes is about me. The discomfort and inconvenience that I experience leads me to think about things that are more important.

2. It makes me thankful and inspires me to make a difference. Let’s face it, walking around barefoot hurts and can be uncomfortable. Last time I did 10 Days Without Shoes, I stayed in the office a lot, and it didn’t seem to be much of a sacrifice. This time around, however, I’ve been doing all of the things I would normally do. I’ve ridden a bike without shoes, walked several miles without shoes, and even went to a movie without shoes. My bare feet have felt the burn of hot asphalt, the stickiness of a movie theatre, and the sharp rocks of an unpaved road. Not only has walking around barefoot made me thankful, it has also inspired me to make a difference. The pain is driving my desire to lessen the pain of poverty for others. Now we just need to find the right organization!

3. It’s fun (in a twisted sort of way). Going without shoes has given me some experiences I would never have experienced otherwise. Up until this past week, no stranger had ever looked at me with a laugh and said, “You hippy,” and I had never ridden a unicycle barefoot. If only that guy had seen me riding my unicycle barefoot, then he would have been convinced!

4. (this is where I need your help) Going without shoes is meant to inspire others to do something as well. It’s a way to mobilize people, and get them excited about attempting to change the world for good. Think about how cool it would be to find a way to have fun and challenge people to make a difference at the same time. Going without is a way to not only challenge myself, but also challenge others.

5. Lastly, and most importantly, going without helps us make a difference in the lives of other people. In the next couple of months, I will tell you about some amazing opportunities that you have to join with me and other organizations in changing the world. Sometimes we will have the opportunity to donate some of our excess (like 10 Days Without A Coat last winter), and sometimes we will have the opportunity to sacrificially give our resources. Both opportunities allow us to transform the lives of others through generosity, while reminding us about what really matters.

10 Days Without started with a simple question, “What if making a difference is simple?” As I thought about this question more, I came up with an experiment called 10 Days Without Shoes. It’s not perfect, and it’s somewhat artificial (going without shoes, doesn’t mean I understand what it’s like to live in poverty), but going without continues to discipline my body and transform my habits to be a little closer to what being a disciple of Jesus should look like.

What do you think? Why have you joined me in this experiment? You may comment below…


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