I own a fabulous pair of red shoes.
They are my favorite pair of shoes. I wear them when my outfit needs a pop of color, or when I need some cheering up on a cloudy day, or when I just want to wear fun shoes. I wear them constantly. They are the one pair of shoes I own that isn’t a neutral color, like black or gray.
But there is one thing that always makes me nervous when I wear my red shoes…
What will people think of me wearing these shoes, since I’m a Christian minimalist? I know worrying about this is beyond silly. But it’s a worry that persists every time I put them on.
I was recently invited to speak at a local congregation about Christian minimalism. And as I got dressed that day, I saw my favorite red shoes. I hesitated to put them on. Then I put them on anyway, because they’re awesome.
No one commented on my shoes at all, until the seminarian taking the picture of myself and one of the pastors said: “I have to get those shoes in the photo!” The photo was great, so I posted it on social media.
…And then my worst fears were realized. One of my friends commented on the photo, saying that my bright red shoes were “ironic” because I’m a minimalist.
Seeing this comment caused a tidal wave of emotions. Embarrassment. Hurt. Sadness. Shame.
And then I realized– this whole thing is ridiculous. Being a minimalist doesn’t mean that I have to wear all-black and look like I’m in mourning. (Although, if you can rock the Johnny Cash look, go for it!) Being a minimalist means that I focus on the aspects of life that matter most and intentionally remove everything else. I have to clothe myself for warmth and decency, and how I do that is my choice. If my pair of red shoes add value to my life and I wear them constantly, that is completely fine.
Minimalism is not boring. It is not about living a life devoid of color. It is not about robbing yourself of joy. It’s about the opposite– living life in more color and with more joy by focusing on what’s most important.
Jesus says, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Jesus is clear that this abundant life is not about accumulating material possessions, wealth, fame, or worldly accolades. Jesus came so that we could live our lives serving him and others, by focusing on what’s most important to the glory of God. We are able to live life abundantly because of Jesus.
I learned two big things from my red shoes experience:
1) I (and most humans) care WAY too much about what other people think. Who cares if people have an opinion on what a Christian minimalist should be like, and think don’t think you measure up? Your Christian minimalism journey is between you and God. What others think doesn’t matter.
2) There is no right way to be a minimalist. How you decide to live out your Christian minimalist lifestyle is up to you and how God is calling you to do so, personally. Don’t let anyone shame you or make you feel badly because you aren’t doing this thing the “right” way. Only you can discern how God is leading you to live this lifestyle.
Jesus came so that we could have life, and have it abundantly. And if that abundant life in Jesus happens to include a pair of fun shoes you wear and enjoy– do it.
DebiNovember 27, 2018 - 8:35 am
Love the red shoes. Thank you for this important message. We should worry about what God thinks of us….not other imperfect sinful humans. God Bless.
Ben KreyDecember 10, 2018 - 7:23 pm
I posted the comment on social media. The Red Shoes did appear “ironic” to me. I’m sorry for all the feelings that were not intended. I’ve known the writer for many years but am just now learning the writer is a Christian Minimalist, so my comment was said very lightheartedly about something I did not realize was so serious to her being. I’m glad it generated this awesome blog post.
Great post, Becca! Sorry for any hurt I caused out of my ignorance and I love you!
JulieDecember 31, 2018 - 1:20 pm
I enjoyed this post, as I struggle with similar insecurities. Trying to minimize is a definite challenge for me, and I’m finally coming to realize it’s the journey and working toward my goals that is meaningful …instead of making it into competition of who is a “better” minimalist, what minimalism “is” or “is not,” etc. By the way, the shoes are awesome!