A Rock in My Shoe
By Don H. Staheli

Pausing on the sidewalk, I struggled to keep my balance while posing like a flamingo in a one-legged stance. There was no place handy to sit down, so I was trying to stand on my left foot with the other foot raised so I could untie my right shoe. This unnatural posture was only maintained through a constant shifting of weight and an occasional hop on one foot to recover my equilibrium. I think humans are not pre-programmed to bend over and take off a shoe while perching on the opposite foot.

All of these gyrations were necessary in my exploration for the boulder that had somehow worked its way into my shoe and was making each stride an exercise in great discomfort. How could such a huge piece of granite have gained access to the bottom of my wing tipped footwear without me noticing the unseen hand that had placed it there, or sensing it as it rolled in through the same entry point occupied snugly by my foot?

Perhaps it was assimilated in some unknown way through the sole, just worming its way in until it nearly pierced the tender part of my instep. Regardless of how it came to get in, it was huge and now causing great pain and making it impossible to walk another step. Thus, the necessity of stopping here now to fidget with the shoelace, take off the shoe and remove the offending hunk of gravel.

When the shoe was finally removed, I could stand, one shoe off and one shoe on with stockinged foot on the cement, and search for the rock. I turned the shoe upside down and shook it. Nothing fell out. Where was the boulder? I inserted my hand into the leather-lined cavity beneath the laces and felt around carefully. I couldn’t feel a thing of any substance until, hold on, there seemed to be something lodged in the soft insole. More probing yielded a tiny grain of aggregate not bigger than a few combined particles of sand. The boulder was nowhere to be found – just this little pebble. What seemed like a rock big enough to cripple an elephant was only a minuscule morsel of stone. How could such a tiny thing stop a hulking man in his tracks?

It doesn’t take much to slow us down or even bring us to a halt. Goliath (though the stone was not in his shoe, but in his forehead!) learned this lesson from a young David. The progress of even the most powerful and promising can be brought up short with the introduction of just a small amount of foreign material in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Sin will have this effect upon us in a profound way. It will slow us down even more quickly than a pebble in our shoe. A small amount of sin, not much in comparison with all the good which we account to ourselves, can make it painful to keep going or can stop our positive movement all together. It doesn’t seem to matter how big we are, or how important, or how well developed our spiritual musculature, the gravel of evil and the grit of sin, if they get in where they don’t belong, will create enough hurt to stop even the best of us.

When that happens, we must pause in our efforts, get our balance, bend or even better kneel down, loosen up a bit and remove the offending source of spiritual pain. When we have done so, sometimes with the help of others and always with the help of the Savior, we’ll be able to tie life back on like a comfortable shoe and stride off to meet whatever the hard-packed pathway of mortality might bring to us.

If we again, and we will, pick up a sinstone, the well-practiced process of removal will work every time to get us comfortably under way. There is nothing like a clean shoe or a clear conscience to make our walk a little easier.


2001 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.