I wear sensible shoes.
It’s not so much a choice as a necessity. My shoes are solid and offer good support. They keep my feet from hurting. They are round and sturdy, named with round and sturdy syllables – Dansko and Joseph Siebel. Nothing airy and strappy sounding like Manolos or Jimmy Choos.
Occasionally, I wish I could wear some more exciting shoes, because, sometimes, when I am wearing my sensible shoes, I feel like them. I wonder if my shoes are a reflection of who I am. Solid, round, close to the ground, scuffed. Boring. But at the end of the day I’m not very willing to sacrifice comfort for flash. When I’ve got some walking and standing to do, I need my sensible shoes.
I do have some less sensible shoes. I call them my Date Shoes because all I can do in them is walk from the car to the table in the restaurant and sit down. Even at that I get my husband to drop me off before he parks. I feel exciting in my high, strappy date shoes. I feel taller, slimmer and maybe even more interesting. But I wouldn’t want to have to go far in them. They are not very comfortable.
Comfortable is underrated I think. When I was young, comfortable was not especially appealing. Even in my choice of shoes, comfort was not the first consideration. I wanted flash, zing, spice. Excitement and passion. Particularly thinking about marriage and relationships, to be comfortable hinted at resignation, being taken for granted, settling, giving up. To be comfortable, sounded to me, like death.
So I hesitate to even say this out loud, because no one wants to be compared to a sensible shoe, but when I think of my marriage today, one of the things I am most grateful for is that it is sturdy and comfortable.
Being comfortable is not what I feared so long ago. It’s not about being taken for granted. Instead, it’s about being known and understood. It’s not resignation. It’s being safe, and at ease. It’s not settling. It’s being secure, confident of the fit. It’s knowing that whatever comes our way, crisis or adventure or just the every day-ness of life, we can walk it together.
Comfortable is not giving up. Comfortable is being able to go the distance.
The opposite of comfortable in a marriage isn’t exciting, passionate romance. The opposite of comfortable is uncomfortable. And uncomfortable often means painful.
We see so much hurt and distress in the chafing of painful relationships around us. Hard hearts wearing blisters on each other’s souls. Dead callouses growing where hurtful straps have been pulled too tight. And far too often, unable to go on, we see people kicking off the discomfort and walking away.
Not that sturdy and comfortable mean there isn’t passion and excitement. My sensible shoes have taken me on some amazing adventures. You can’t walk the cobblestone streets of Paris or explore the alleys of Bangkok in high heels. You need the right footwear to go the distance. When you are comfortable in a marriage, the zing has some more substance to it – and durability. And somehow that ignites the passion and the love on an entirely different level.
So even if it should sound boring or perhaps unappealing, I love my Comfortable Valentine. And I’m grateful for a marriage that is as comfortable as a sensible shoe.
Jennifer Zach lives in Ahwatukee Foothills with her husband and three children. They are members of Bridgeway Community Church. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.