‘Arch enemy.

klip-Thump – klip-Thump – klip-Thump.

My shoes mocked me. I never thought a set of footwear could mock. Or embarrass. Or harass. But in the world of a self-conscious adolescent they could. And did – with an impish tinge of spite.

The worst places by far were school hallways.

The polio virus had sent me to the hospital after I started Fourth Grade. Released months later I resumed my schoolboy life.

I’ll never forget my first day back to school. How awkward it felt, keenly aware no one but me was bumbling down the hallway with a pair of accessories called crutches. When time came to retire the crutches I was overjoyed. I felt like skipping, and on the inside I did.

I was probably the most self-conscious kid in the history of Wilson Elementary – and afterwards of  Preston Junior High. The crutches were long gone but not my limp. Nor the reason for my limp, and that aggravating klip-Thump mantra.

The culprit was the arch of my left foot – rather the absence of an arch.

My first polio bout left me with this keepsake – a left foot with a diving-board-flat arch, and non-functioning tendons. I had nothing to give the foot lift. So the left shoe didn’t know how to steponly to flop or Thump to the floor. My right foot, by contrast, was arched especially high, like a startled cat. So the contradicting sounds my shoes made when crossing any surface was striking.  Efforts at treading softly were futile. To my anxious introvert-ears the klutzy sounds of my cadence still sounded – with embarrassing annoyance.

It strikes me as humorous sometimes now – my shoes and me. Our perpetual, private shouting match of those years.

KLIP-THUMP!, KLIP-THUMP! – “shouting” upward from the hallway floor at me. Me scowling downward with a silent retort, Just SHUT UP!

My high school graduation ended all the years of limping self-consciously through school corridors. It was then I started seeing it.  I was surprised. And more than a little embarrassed.

I had wasted a lot of time looking down.

Today I try to remind myself (when my lazy left foot catches and sends me into a clumsy stumble or the like). Obsessing over my deficiencies serves a purpose. But not a noble one. It shifts my attention from the All Sufficient One to my pitiful, inadequate self-sufficiency. It leads me to choose anxiety over peace. A really bad tradeoff.

It seems our most paralyzing afflictions aren’t necessarily the physical ones. Indeed, a lot of my limping – my unbelief-limpingissues out of paying attention to concerns that are really of no concern at all.

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.   – Psalm 23


©2015 Jerry Lout




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