Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

God gives us many friends at different seasons and for different reasons. But, friends who have the greatest impact and leave deep grooves are ones who are not afraid to remove their shoes. These are our barefoot friends. I’ve had a few barefoot friends over time and each one left indelible marks on me.

So what does a barefoot friend look like?

Barefoot friends aren’t intimidated by social norms. They thrive in the gap between doing what’s acceptable and doing what’s best for you as their friend.

They don’t remove their shoes out of cultural respect or because the homeowner has some carpet-preservation rule. Rather, they remove them so they can sit more comfortably, cross-legged and engaged face-to-face.

Barefoot friends are less restricted and less distracted with their shoes off. After all, bare feet always seem more sincere, honest and intentional.

When someone willingly removes their shoes uninhibited at the entrance of another person’s dwelling, trust soon follows. The act is as if to say, “I’m not going anywhere. I am yours & you have my full attention. Even if your house catches fire, I will not run ahead of you. Instead I will run alongside you, out the front door, without stopping.”  

Barefoot friends will jump a burning threshold with you or shred open a roof with their bare hands in order to lift you to safer ground when you are too weak to do it yourself. 

They are willing to be exposed, unmasked and stripped down to flesh. They dig in deep, listen close & share with candid abandon. They surf with purpose in the tide of your life – the highs & lows, the victories & defeats *no pun intended* – all while sitting perfectly still. They are fearless, fierce and determined. They overlook heels with rough edges and are not deterred by bits of flaking flesh or unsightly nails specked with chips of paint. They know life is messy and it’s okay. 

Barefoot friends are radical. They deliver transparent openness to an otherwise dark and closed circle of fear, pain and isolation.

Everyone needs a barefoot friend in their life at various stages. Some arrive for merely a brief visit – others for a lifetime. But no matter the duration, we are always left altered by their presence.

Barefoot friends deliver love and parcel mercy during our greatest moment of need. They have the strength it takes to press grace through the door of our defenses straight into the inner sanctum of our hearts.

So let me ask you something – do you have a barefoot friend right now? If not, invite someone in and permit them to remove their shoes in the entryway of your home. Are you a barefoot friend to someone else? If not, then perhaps it’s time to plan a visit. Have enough courage to remove your shoes and sit for a while. When you do, I suspect you may never wear shoes again.