beautiful feet

"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" As a missionary, I heard that verse often. People spoke it to me, wrote it in cards, sent it in framed pictures. It was a promise, to me, of beauty in messy places.

My feet walked the dusty dirt roads of Qwa Qwa, South Africa.

They stepped into dirt-floor homes, made of one room and filled with families of 12. Or more. My feet sat me down, cross-legged, to hold precious HIV-infected little ones, too weak to lift their heads, too numb to smile. My feet carried me to my desk (because, you see, I was {mostly} an office missionary), up the hill to my class (to teach a room filled with young beautiful feet), to the shops in my tiny town (where people knew me as that "Yankee girl").

My feet held me as our property raged with a wildfire, as a twister ripped the roof off my house, as the floods broke through the dam wall and filled the landscape. My feet held me as I held others, going through storms of their own, mostly of the invisible kind. My feet took me to Africa, and my feet took me back to the States.

And here I sit, nestled comfortably on the couch, and I wonder where the beauty has gone...

I wonder if an ex-missionary's feet are only beautiful in past tense, or if there could be some glimmer of redemptive beauty that still remains.

What do beautiful feet look like after failure, after shattered dreams, after hope dried up? What does it mean to bring good news in my everyday ordinary life when there are no babies to rock, classes to teach, people asking about Jesus?

I throw back the last sip of my now-lukewarm coffee, and the dam wall breaks...

Maybe the good news is simply a kind word, a generous smile, a lingering hug. Maybe the good news is an honest conversation about my struggles and the grace that clings to me even when I can't cling to it. Maybe the good news is offering the gift of going second, letting others know they aren't alone. Maybe the good news is found in "I don't know"s rather than fabricated answers, in "You are loved"s because it just needs to be said, in humble "I'm sorry, please forgive me"s from a sincere broken heart, in honestly grateful "Thank you"s that honor the gift and the giver. 

Maybe the good news that He sees, cares, and loves is really found in someone feeling seen, cared for, and loved... by me.

And maybe, just maybe, beautiful feet are whatever vehicle used to deliver that good news. A spoken word. A thumbed-out text. A hand-hold. An understanding tear. A joyful laugh. A handwritten letter. A blog post. A not-letting-go hug.

Perhaps this ex-missionary still brings good news, and perhaps my feet are found by Him to be beautiful still.

And maybe that verse still stands as a promise of beauty in messy places.