The Parable of the Peep Toe Shoe

By Kathy Ferguson Litton

I have a confession.

Granted, I will never be confused as a fashionista—my wardrobe far too full of workout gear, flip flops and comfy but boring items to suggest otherwise. So the upcoming confession is no real news.

In a rush before church while donning a fashionable pair of peep-toe shoes my unfashionable toes were NOT making a statement . Yet I had no time. (You know what’s coming) Yes, I did. One toe, the one toe exposed in the shoes got swiftly manicured and painted an eye-popping red.

Off I went to church. The polished and manicured toe exposed in my peep-toe shoes certainly gave NO hint of the un-kept nature of my four other toes.

I was achieving what I hoped for: The illusion of the put-together woman without really BEING one.

YIKES. Unfortunately in thirty-seven plus years of being a ministry wife I would have to say that this matter is a BIG snare for us.

(Now I am NO longer talking merely toenails).

Since we feel like others expect US to be the “put-together” woman in the (fill in the blank) category—we may try to create the illusion we are.

Not necessarily by being deceptive or hypocritical but in a more subtle way. We can just cover up the four un-kept toes and keep them out of sight.

Now if we were still talking toenails there is no foul here. Yet if we attempt to create the spiritual illusion that we have it all together, we have a problem. We may feel we are pulling off our illusions, unless of course this pesky little verse crops up: “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Add to that the fact that keeping our un-keptness perpetually hidden hinders our spiritual progress and the true gospel community the church should experience. Creating or maintaining spiritual illusions is not good. For anyone.

Please, my dear sisters, do not believe the lie that you should pretend to have it all together. Gary Thomas refers to this as “spiritual-cosmetology” (ouch, since most of us wear make-up we get this concept).

Great post on vulnerability and community.Twice in my life I stood before our congregations to reveal “four un-kept toes”—significant places where I didn’t have it all together. Once as a younger woman I shared a struggle with depression and then later in life with a painful personal family issue. In both issues an element of shame was involved. Plus there were other countless smaller settings in community where my realities were no longer kept hidden from view.

Why expose these issues? I was limping and needed the community of believers. I needed the prayer and support from the body of Christ, spiritual leader or not.

Recently I stumbled upon this definition of the word vulnerability:

To voluntarily place yourself in a situation that could bring pain for the sake of a larger purpose.

Yes, I risked exposing potentially hurtful matters for a greater purpose. What would that be? Two huge ones come quickly to mind:

  • I needed the support of community in my struggle.
  • God was glorified as His power was publicly displayed in the exposed realities of my life.

Neither would have occurred if I covered up my un-kept life. Insert BIG reminder here: The Gospel is for un-kept people.

Healthy churches and healthy believers are transparent and vulnerable. So are healthy ministry wives.

Are you living a life of vulnerability, or spiritual-cosmetology? What encourages or discourages you to be authentic with the community God has placed you in?

Published March 6, 2015

P.S. Get our best content in your inbox

We send one email per week chock full of articles from a variety of Send Network voices.

Kathy Ferguson Litton

Kathy lives in Mobile, Alabama, with her husband Ed, pastor of Redemption Church. Both lost former spouses in car accidents, and God uniquely gave them new love and life together in 2009. Kathy enjoyed 26 years of life and ministry alongside Rick Ferguson. She has three children and ten grandchildren. Presently she serves as Director of Planting Spouse Development.