“Where is my stupid shoe?” I shouted at my bewildered husband.
That question burst out of my mouth far more loudly than intended on a Wednesday morning in early March. I slept through two alarms that morning and had only woken up maybe 20 minutes before the rest of my family. In other words, I was late before I started. I rushed through making breakfast, getting backpacks ready, and organizing what I needed for work. Still, all things considered, I got dressed pretty fast. I even managed to get my makeup on and my hair done. The kids actually got to the car and buckled in without arguing, right on time. But just as I was going to get in the car myself, I couldn’t find my shoe.
“Unbelievable!” I shouted upwards to God. “Today is a busy morning! I am leading presentations all day, and I have to be on time to prepare them! Where in the world is my shoe?”—as if God would miraculously find it for me, especially after I yelled.
I searched high and low, under beds and behind dressers. I went to the car and then back into the house, probably slamming a few doors as I went. I know, it’s just a shoe! And yes, I had several other pairs I easily could have grabbed. But at that moment, that shoe seemed like the biggest problem in the world.
And then, just as I was at the height of my frantic search, my phone buzzed. “Your child’s school is cancelled today due to the coronavirus. More information to follow.”
Suddenly, the shoe didn’t matter anymore. Suddenly, I had no idea what to do or what to feel. In that instant, everything changed.
That moment was almost two months ago now, but I think back to it often. In the First Principle and Foundation, St. Ignatius had warned me about the shoe. He told me not to let any created thing get in the way of developing my relationship with God. And yet, I had. In fact, the shoe and many created things like it had gotten in the way for a very long time.
If I have learned anything in these last two months, I hope it is this: Ignatius was right. “Our only desire and our one choice should be this: I want and I choose what better leads to God’s deepening his life in me” (Fleming translation).
And that is definitely not getting frantic about a missing shoe.
Instead, deepening God’s life in me means:
- Spending quality time with my children, who are a daily sign of God’s presence in my life;
- Taking some time in prayer with God before I get out of bed in the morning, asking for God’s grace before my feet hit the floor;
- Sitting one-on-one with my first-grader and witnessing his eyes light up when he learns something new; and
- Having more compassion for myself and others as we navigate this strange new world.
Above all, it means remembering that details like lost shoes will work themselves out if I place God first and trust in God’s plan for me.