Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Ten Minute Comfort Factor

It was a CTD teacher than passed on this morsel of interesting information. He didn’t pass it on to me as such. I just happened to be present when he was talking to a group of young people.

They had been set the project to design a sports shoe.

He had a box with a trainer in it and pointed out the various features. The colours, the logos, the quality of the laces and the cushioned sole – all of these features were not random choices but carefully constructed for one reason or another.

Then he went on to say, “Of course, you all know that every design for a sport’s shoe incorporates the “ten minute comfort factor”. Of course, we all didn’t, so he explained. We have all done it. We have gone into a shop and tried on a shoe. We have twisted our feet to peculiar angles in front of the mirror at the bottom of the wall. We have all walked up and down the carpeted shop. We have lifted ourselves up on to our tip toes, and then dug out heels into the ground and tried to lift our toes. This all apparently takes under ten minutes.

The shoes pass the comfort test and we line up at the check out desk, where the queue seems to be abnormally long and slow moving. And we walk away with out purchase. Once out of the shop, wearing the new shoes, we come to the realisation that the shoe isn’t that comfortable at all. I am sure that it actually makes a difference what time of the day we try the shoes on.

I suppose that we are honest enough to admit that however comfortable we felt in the shop, there is always going to be some breaking in. It’s new leather and there is a bit of stretching that has yet to happen.

Maybe this doesn’t happen to you. Maybe you have lucky feet! Me, I have unlucky feet. One foot is definitely half a size larger than the other. Whatever feels good on my right foot, you can bet that on the left foot it will be much tighter. Whatever feels good on the left foot will probably slip off the right foot. I have a feeling there is probably some company that mixes and matches shoe boxes precisely for people just like me.

The shoe might have felt comfortable for ten minutes in the shop, but believe me it’s not comfortable an hour or two later!

It doesn’t help that I am too mean and miserly to pay for a really good shoe that costs more than my entire food budget for the next month! I wait until the sales, and even then, hum and ha over the price which is still, in my opinion, a bit steep. Don’t criticise me, please…I was born and bought up in a hand-me-downs household!

It doesn’t help either that my last pair of ten-minutes-in-the-shop-wonderful pair of shoes have rubbed sufficiently persistently to give me a corn on my little toe. I rubbed away at it with an emery board a few weeks ago…probably not the best use of an emery board, or the best way to deal with a corn! It worked, for a while.

I wonder if it is possible sometimes that we “market” our faith with an incorporated “ten minute comfort factor”. For a while, perhaps not as short as ten minutes, perhaps as long as a week, or a month, or two months everything is fine, then reality hits. People sometimes don’t seem to be aware that, yes, there is grace, but yes, there is also discipline and devotion and dedication. We don't take enough time to really lay down the foundations of our faith. Just as the new leather needs to soften up to the shape of the foot, our lives need to do some softening up to take on the shape of our new faith. It is all too easy to soften the faith to make it more palatable to our lives…but the change needs to come from us.

Just as shoes that rubs and rubs results in a spot of hard skin called a corn, one wonders if the result of badly fitting faith that rubs and rubs results in a few hard spots in our hearts.

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