“An Easter Story,” April 4, 2023

This is an Easter story. I first told it some 20 years ago, but it’s still true. And truth bears repeating, now more than ever. Here it is.

I don’t need new shoes for Easter. There was a time in my life when I thought I did. But maybe I just wanted them. How do we know the difference between want and need?

The best thing about the small Southern town where I grew up — aside from its peaches, its views of the mountains and its interesting assortment of characters — was that it seldom let any of us feel truly poor.

A lot of us were, in fact, poorer than the red dirt beneath our feet. We lived, as my mother said, hand to mouth, from one mill paycheck to the next. But the families that were well off never flaunted their wealth nor allowed their children to do so.

We all went to the same school, played the same games and ate the same fried chicken in the cafeteria. We had most of what we needed, some of what we wanted and very little sense of anything that we lacked.

On Easter Sunday, most folks went to church, rich and poor, saints and sinners alike. The difference, as I saw it when I was 9 years old, was simple: Some wore new shoes, and some wore old, and we all knew who was who and which was which.

I sat in church that Easter Sunday dangling my legs from the pew, staring at the shoes my mother had polished to look almost, but not quite, good as new. They weren’t just old. They were ugly. So I promised myself, next Easter, I’d be wearing new shoes.

Want to know how I kept that promise? I lied. I’m not proud of it, but there it is. I told my daddy that my mama said I needed new shoes for Easter. She didn’t say it, but I’m sure she thought it. Ever since their divorce, if she said I needed something, he’d try his best to get it.

The look on his face when he saw the price tag told me those shoes cost a fortune. But, oh my, they were worth it –white patent leather with bright silver buckles. And the clerk threw in a pair of frilly socks.

I wore them to church that Easter Sunday feeling shiny and clean, fancy and free, saved by the blood of Jesus and a brand new pair of shoes.

Then my feet started to hurt. I had blisters on both heels and all ten toes. After church, we went to my grandparents’ house for a big family dinner. My mother wouldn’t let me hunt Easter eggs with my cousins because she said I’d ruin my new shoes. I didn’t care. My feet were already ruined.

But the next day I smuggled the new shoes to school (I hid them in my jacket to get past my mother) and put them on before class. We played tag at recess and I had to be “it” the whole time because I couldn’t limp fast enough to tag anybody.

Then at lunch, I sat next to a friend who was wearing, I swear, a pair of old, beat-up, hand-me-down sneakers that were three sizes too big and had once belonged to her brother. She kept staring at my new shoes. And the longer she stared, the more my feet hurt.

By the time I got home, I never wanted to see those shoes again, let alone, wear them. I finally gave them to my cousin Bad Linda, who wore them unbuckled because they were too small, and nagged me until I gave her the frilly socks.

I learned some lessons that Easter. First, salvation is a lot like true wealth. It’s not about the shoes on your feet; it’s about the love and compassion and saving grace that’s in your heart.

Second, if you’re going to lie to your daddy about something your mother said, you’d best be sure he never talks to her.

Finally, it doesn’t matter how good you look or how fancy it makes you feel. If the shoe doesn’t fit — if it hurts your feet or your friend or slows you down in any way — you’ll be happier without it.

I don’t need new shoes this Easter. Maybe next year.


  1. Katie Musgrave says

    Enjoyed this lesson at your expense. I just came back from my podiatrist appointment & fully appreciate the care he gave my feet! Shoes can be a pain , but lessons learned are memorable. Happy Easter!

  2. Jane Eaton says

    Would you please publish your advice to choosing a husband. I think I read this a good while ago.

  3. Bettytaylor says

    I love your posts. This brought wonderful memories. Please keep sharing. Wishing you a blessed Easter

  4. Janet Mann says

    Great read and so true! Thanks for sharing another of your great letters. HAPPY EASTER to you and all your family!

  5. Very good message. So true

  6. CHope Hall says

    We were poor & I never knew it. Some of the kids had clothes that everything matched in color down to shoes & socks & hair bows. My outfits were mostly home made & made big enough to wear more than one year. I had 1 church outfit & 1 pair of church shoes. Had to stuff something in the shoes til my feet caught up to them. My clothes were always clean & ironed. Other kids were always friendly so it was ok. Found out many yrs later that we were actually poorer than the church mouse–too poor to paint & too proud to whitewash as they say. Our kids never knew we didn’t have $$ & it was fine. We were & are blessed. This article brought back a lot of good memories. God bless & keep you & yours.

  7. Cathy Leist says

    I love this. Such a simple lesson but oh so true.
    Wishing you and your family a wonderful Easter…..even without new shoes. 😊

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