A Tale As Old As Time
I remember the exact day I fell in love with sneakers.
Okay, maybe not the exact day.
But I do remember the exact sneakers, and the exact person that was wearing them. Dawanna Taylor was wearing the White/Black/Red Air Jordan XIIIs (aka “He Got Games”) in a rec league game. I was on another team wearing Dennis Rodman’s Converse AS 91s (I was actually a post player back then, so I wasn’t too lame for wearing Rodmans, alright!). I remember staring at her feet so long that my crush on sneakers grew to a real love. I’d had a fling with the Taxis (White/Black Air Jordan XII), plenty of Jason Kidd’s and Deion’s, but this was different. The black and white upper with the red outsole and that hologram was just so smooth. I couldn’t be a copycat though, so I waited til ’98 and got the White/Red/Black XIIIs. I’d worn different Nikes, but after seeing those, it was time to stop playing hard to get. From Cement IVs, to Space Jams, Midnight Navy VIs, all the way to the not so popular 18.5s, I would remain committed to the G.O.A.T. for years.
Now, I’ll admit that I had a few affairs with SBs (Nike Dunks and Blazers), Adidas, and whatever else I could find on eBay or little mom and pop stores once I got to college and couldn’t afford a-hundred-dollar shoes and something to “go with” them (cus wearing basic tees to match your shoes wasn’t the thing back then, matching was). But it was never serious.
Fast forward a few years, a few tips from my sisters; a few good sermons about the rich young ruler; and more than a few speeches from my mom; and I found myself ignoring sneaker release dates and didn’t even blink when passing Footlocker at the mall.
We’d broken up.
I still preferred sneakers over any other footwear, but I wasn’t in love anymore. They’d taken more from me than they had given. Not to mention that soccer game with a group of beautiful barefoot kids in Guatemala that made $100 shoes seem silly.
But then October 4, 2013 happened.
It was the day I came across the Air Jordan V “Bel Air” on Instagram, and I went from divorced to remarried overnight. I didn’t get them the following day when they released (uhh if you want non-general release Jordans nowadays, you have to have a plan days ahead of time…more on that in a future post), but I’d returned to my second love (basketball was first of course). And it was a reckless love. So many ups and downs. My mind telling me no…but my feet…my feet telling me “Yeeeees!” I’d sell some of my collection in the name of living radically and humbly one week. Only to go hunt down a different pair on eBay weeks later. Something was seriously wrong. But what? Was our relationship toxic? Were sneakers an idol in my heart? Was there no way to love sneakers and love God? Was the only answer to sell all my sneakers and follow Christ? For a time, I think the answer for me was yes.
Well, I don’t think so. And I don’t think that’s my foolish heart talking.
I took a necessary step back for a minute and realized that the issue wasn’t sneakers. It was deeper than that. It was how I viewed money and stewardship; how little my eyes and heart swelled when I looked at God; how little I thought of Heaven and what wonders await me there; how little value I got from being a child of God; and how much I got from impressing others and having something of monetary value.
“Little hearts, little souls give little lusts big power. Big hearts give little lusts little power, because they look little! When you see the magnitude of your treasure [in Christ], your soul swells to get around it!”-Piper
I had simply turned a good thing into a God thing. He’s given us much in this life for our enjoyment, but not to be enjoyed more than or treasured above or even equal to Him. My heart should not find more joy on SneakerNews.com than it does in the scriptures. If so, my heart needs enlarging. And I need more of Him and less of them.
I’ll be honest, some days I do need a heart check. And I’ve got friends who keep me from buying Bel Airs on eBay even when they’re the lowest price I’ve seen for a size 6.5 in good condition (obviously I’m still slightly salty). But that’s a part of being in this world and not of it. Buying sneakers isn’t inherently sinful, just like money isn’t a root of all kinds of evils—the love of it is.
So, while sometimes we abuse what God has graciously given us to enjoy, and the solution is walking away from them never to return; sometimes, we just need to learn how to properly appreciate things so that even our enjoyment of them reflects our greater enjoyment in God. And that’s the banner I’ve set out to wave via my Instagram @EatDrknBuySnkrs (inspired by Solomon’s advice to “eat, drink, and be merry”) and hopefully above my future sneaker consignment store. I want to encourage people to enjoy God, enjoy life, and (if it’s their thing too) enjoy sneakers!
So, what’s your sneaker love story?
Stay tuned for the next edition of #SneakerheadSaturday
Caresse Spencer is a freelance writer who has appeared on Huff Post Live with Marc Lamont Hill; composed promotional material for several Reach Records albums and tours; contributed copy and visual concepts for Chick-fil-A informational videos and online advertising; written informational scripts used by Dell to introduce new programs to their consumers; and created commercial scripts for I-Drive-Smart to appeal to parents and teenagers. And she likes sneakers—a lot.