Bootstraps

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me…For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Breathing in the lovely leather of the boot shop in Nashville, I leaned down to try on my very own ornately designed tan and teal cowboy boots, pointed toes and all. My smile wide and my eyes twinkling like the stars in Texas, I shoved my right foot down into the mouth of the boot, but for some reason it wouldn’t go all the way in. What was the matter? Did I pick the wrong size? Boots are sized differently, so maybe I made a mistake. After closer inspection, I confirmed they were the right ones and I tried again to force my way into my destiny.

“Use the bootstraps,” my friend commented with a smirk.

“Oh, right,” I said with a shrug, fumbling helplessly around the sides of the boot to no avail.

“Take your foot out, silly,” my friend chuckled.

“Huh?” I replied, my head in a fog, searching for a remnant of what she might be talking about. My mind betrayed me. I followed her instruction, slipped my foot from the object of my affection and slid my hand along the inside rim. Behold…the bootstrap. I erupted in hysterical laughter as I completed the task at hand – fingers in bootstraps, foot in boot – and boy were they beautiful boots.

“What’s so funny?” my friend broke in.

Wiping happy tears, I pulled on the left boot and stood up to show off the glorious teal beauties and shared the tale of my folly. “My mom used to say, ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps,’ I explained, “but I always pull up from my shoulders in a tugging motion as if bootstraps are bra straps when I say it.”

We laughed so loud that the store owner came downstairs to check on us.

“Bootstraps” I said to him, motioning at my shoulders and tugging upward in the air. More raucous laughter. Blank stare. New boots.   

Mom taught me the practical lessons of life and bootstraps was one that got me through the turns and tides; good ol’ fashioned hard work was the answer, I understood that part of it. I could improve my situation by my own efforts.

And yet, there’s some folly in it, like my story, because there’s only so much we can do in our own strength. Human striving apart from the power of Christ fails.

My body is weary, Lord. My heart is overwhelmed. My path is foggy.

When I put my hope in Him, the source of my help, I am strong, I am confident, I am able.

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