I've got a pair of preaching heels. They're bright pink, comfortable to walk in, and elevate my 5'2" self to a more pulpit appropriate height. I bought them specifically when I preached my very first sermon and they've stuck ever since. It's been a fun habit, but I've never thought too deeply about my shoe choices.
But on Sunday, I was stopped by a woman after worship. This woman is a hero of mine. She was a mover and shaker in the early women's movement in the church, ordained before women's ordination was really accepted and ministering to people long before anyone told her it was okay. So when she smiled at me and wanted to talk, I was all ears. As it turned out, she wanted to talk about my shoes. That day I was wearing a pair of red high heels I had borrowed from a friend. This woman loved them. But it's more than that. She didn't just love the shoes, she loved the freedom I had to wear whatever shoes I wanted.
As she went on to explain to me, back when she was first ordained, many women were trying on the clergy fashion for the first time, wearing what the men were wearing. Women put on robes and stoles and collars, trying to see if that's where the power came from. But as this woman told me, as if she were passing along some secret wisdom, the power wasn't in the clothes. Women entered the full life of church participation and learned that power comes not from outer appearances, but from the call of God and the response from within.
When she looked at my heels then, she didn't see a fashionable shoe. She saw a young woman who was empowered to dress in whatever way she wanted. She saw me leading in worship and couldn't help but beam, because her work has paid off. I didn't have to look, talk, or act like a man to be accepted in the church. I can be young, I can be a woman, and I can preach.
I am grateful for women who have made it possible for me to nonchalantly show up, be who I am, and be heard and accepted. I am thankful for the gift of pink high heels.