I open my e-mail and click on the attachment. A photo of a little baby and her daddy fills the screen. They have smiles on their faces. Big happy smiles that blur and then disappear as tears fill my eyes.
The little girl’s name is Rosalina. Rosalina’s family wanted her to be baptized. And Rosalina’s family hoped that, at her baptism, Rosalina could wear a pretty dress and pretty shoes. Pretty white shoes for her tiny little feet. But the family is poor. And even baby shoes are expensive these days.
A few weeks ago, I was selling some clothes at a garage sale. As I filled up a box with my daughters’ newborn-size shoes, I came across two special pairs of shoes – little pink ones from my older daughter’s dedication, and little white ones from my younger daughter’s dedication. I held them in my hand for a moment, hesitating. Then I slowly added them to the box. I’m not sure what made me put those shoes in the box. I think it was because I didn’t actually think anyone would buy them.
Garage sale day. A real estate agent came by and began looking through the baby clothes. Her name was Anastasia. She wanted to buy some of the clothes for a shelter program that she is involved with. I told her to take them for free.
She pressed a business card and a small amount of money into my hand. I tried to give the money back.
“Please take it. It’s for the shoes,” she insisted. “I’ll take the boxes of clothes for free, but let me just pay for the shoes. They’re not for the shelter. They’re for an art project.”
I opened my hand and looked down. Sure enough, there was just enough money to cover the price I was charging for the shoes.
I watched as Anastasia and her friends walked away with the boxes of clothes and the little box of shoes. I wanted to run after them and beg them to give back the shoes from my daughters’ dedication. But I didn’t.
Two weeks later, as I open the e-mail from Anastasia and look at the picture of smiling little Rosalina and her beautiful white baptism shoes, I realize how selfish I am. And the tears flow. If I had my way, my daughters’ shoes would’ve sat on a shelf at the back of a closet gathering dust year after year. Instead, a small white pair adorns the feet of sweet Rosalina on her baptism day.
I didn’t know that the shoes would end up on little Rosalina’s feet and not as part of the art project for which they were designated. But still, my heart shouldn’t cling so much to “stuff”. I wish I had given the shoes freely.
I understand now that it’s okay to let go of things. We don’t always see the Rosalinas of the world. We don’t always know about them. But every sacrifice that we make in life, however small, has a ripple effect.
We can hold closely to things. But lives are touched when we let go.