Loosen You Laces
Bowen Miller

Loosen your laces.

As some of you know, Brad and I recently enjoyed a holiday on the south island of New Zealand. We went with the intent of taking in the wildness and breathtaking scenery.  There were many moments when I imagined being in a scene from Lord of the Rings!

We also planned to do lots of walking, culminating with the Queen Charlotte Track – taking 5 days to cover about 80km. This track runs almost the entire length of Queen Charlotte Sound, following the ridge between Queen Charlotte and nearby Kenepuru Sound. It is steep in parts with wonderful views along its length. Perhaps more on the view from the top another time!

I made one major purchase before we left for our trip – new hiking boots. While I walked in them a bit before we left, I knew most of their breaking-in would happen once we were walking in NZ.

On the first day of our holiday, in brilliant sunshine, we walked about 15km around Lake Wanaka. The snow-capped alps were brilliant against a blue sky, and the lake was so beautiful. My boots had great traction and excellent ankle support. The left foot was incredibly comfy. Perfect. But the right was a tiny bit tight, and I had a significant blister on my big toe by the end of our first day’s walking. Oh no! This didn’t auger well for our 80km hike in a week’s time.

So I dressed the blister. Protected it. Rested it. But after another day’s walking it still hurt. A lot.

I looked up how I could stretch my boot. And tried about thinner socks.

And then my very practical husband suggested I loosen the laces at the front of my foot to give more room. Brilliant! I’d been so focussed on lacing firmly to support my ankle, my forefoot was just a smidge too tight.

Well, that made all the difference. It took the pressure off my big toe. The blister healed up and by the time we were in Picton, ready to go out and begin the Queen Charlotte track, my feet felt great and my boots were as comfy as I’d hoped they’d be. Still giving great support. Still holding tight to the path so I didn’t slip.

Loosening the laces.

How often do we need to loosen the laces of our lives?
Give ourselves some breathing room.
Time to heal.
Relax our grip on keeping control of everything.

We don’t need to stretch our life out of shape to make things fit.
Or trade our life in for a new one.

We need to make space for who we are. And what we can do. And what we have experienced.

Do we get life blisters because we’re laced up too tight?
Do we keep patching up the same irritations, only to have them erupt again and cause us pain?

Anger. Resentment. Jealousy. Fear.
Feeling that we don’t have enough.
Feeling like we are not enough.

Jesus’ way was always to help people see that there is room for every person to inhabit their own lives. Think of Zacchaeus. Think of Mary Magdalene. Think of everyone Jesus encountered.

This is still Jesus’ way.

Jesus offers forgiveness so we don’t remain burdened by the ways we have broken love and trust.
Jesus offers redemption, so that what was broken and damaged can find a home in our lives, in peace.
Jesus offers healing, so that we might experience wholeness.
Jesus gifts all this by grace – opening up space for being and seeing life in new ways, full of possibility.
Ultimately, Jesus loves – breaking open the pain we have created by our small-mindedness.

We find our laces loosened when we choose forgiveness, grace and love.
When we accept the gifts Jesus offers and choose to follow him on the path through suffering that leads to life.
When we loosen the laces on our life, our life fits more easily.
The pressure on those blisters lessens.
And we find healing. And joy.

There’s nothing like hiking through stunning country when your boots are comfy and supportive and fit like a glove. You can focus on what’s around you rather than the pain of a blistered toe. The Queen Charlotte walk was magnificent, and I enjoyed it very much.

There’s nothing like living fully into the stunning territory that is our life, our relationships, our work, our personality, and our particular passion for making a contribution to the world around us.

That’s a far more life-giving way to live than with the pain of a raging blister at every step.

I hope, with me, you can loosen the laces and enjoy the adventure.

Grace and peace,