I kept my shoes on.
I was in another person’s home for the first time, and for a Bible study no less, and I was the first person there. I asked if I should take off my shoes or leave them on. They said whatever I preferred, and so I left them on my feet.
Everyone else came for the Bible study and we all gathered and began to talk and laugh. I didn’t really say anything. What are you supposed to say in big groups of people who all know each other and none of them knows you? So I kept quiet.
Two of the members of the group ended up crying, telling us about a hard time they were going through in their lives. Others also allowed themselves to be vulnerable as well.
At some point, I looked around the room. Every single person there had left their shoes by the front door. All of them were in stocking feet. I felt silly for leaving my shoes on. They took off their shoes. They let down their guard down enough to be comfortable in this place. They not only shared words, they shared deep hurt and confusion. And I couldn’t even speak.
Vulnerability is hard for me. ‘Hard’ doesn’t seem like a good enough word to cover it. It’s more than difficult. And, what with the friends leaving me and breaking my damned heart, I don’t see the need to ever allow vulnerability. I mean, what’s the point? It’s like the song asks: “How many times can I break till I shatter?” How many times will I be vulnerable only to have it completely back fire?
So… I left my shoes on.