Knotted Shoelaces


My oldest was probably only four years old when he showed me proudly that he could tie his shoes.

There they were, with the laces knotted together over and over until there was no more string left with which to work. How proud he was, and how I smiled. He had not tied them properly, but he had done his best and I was proud of him anyway.

With the laces tied together – tightly – in nearly twenty good knots on each shoe, I naturally had a bit of an unplanned project ahead of me. Undoing what he had done would take some time.

Even though it wasn’t on my agenda to untie all those knots, I remember being sweetly amused by his valiant effort to do something he had never done before. Tying shoes was important, something he knew I’d have to do if he didn’t. He was only trying to help, and I knew it. Of course there was no punishment for doing it “wrong;” only praise, and a little bit of guidance to help him do it a little better next time.

I’ve often reflected on that ‘motherhood moment.’ At times I’ve found myself in a pickle after trying to do something good (but in all the wrong ways). In those times, I think about my boy.

When my misjudgment creates a tangle, I’ve learned that there is always some Fatherly intervention available to help straighten everything out.

It’s not hard to imagine a loving Heavenly Father being sweetly amused by my valiant effort to try something new, something important, especially when I am only trying to help. Instead of being angry that I would meddle in His work and mess things all up, I believe He simply smiles, squats down and helps me unravel a few unnecessary knots. Gratefully, I’ve learned that I can’t ruin anything so badly that He can’t fix it. I’m just not that powerful.

When I seek His help, He is perfectly able to reverse the problems I cause, or at least make something wonderful out of bad situations in His own miraculous way, and in His own time.

He is able to do His work. But it brings me joy to try to help. And when things go wrong, I think He’s proud of me for trying. And when things go well, I know it’s not me. It never was me. I only made messes of knots when I thought it was.

I’m grateful for a loving Father in Heaven who does not condemn me when I do something wrong, if my intentions are right. And whenever I get down on myself for my mistakes, I think of a perfect Father in Heaven who loves me in spite of me, and helps me as I resolve to do better. I think of knotted shoelaces.

Remembering this gives me the courage to keep trying, until the day He finally says of His work, “It is finished.”

Related: When perfection is impossible (and it always is)

Originally published February 23, 2007

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Leslie Householder

Leslie Householder is the award-winning, international best selling author of The Jackrabbit Factor, Portal to Genius, and Hidden Treasures: Heaven's Astonishing Help With Your Money Matters. Since 2002, she has helped people all over the world discover and apply the Rare Kind of Faith that causes things to happen for powerful life changes. Through story and shifts of perspective, Leslie aims to help her readers crush every challenge, achieve every goal, and vanquish every monster under their beds. Above all, Leslie is a dedicated wife and mother of seven children.
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7 thoughts on “Knotted Shoelaces

  1. Hi Leslie,
    I’m trying to find the statement you made about not being able to mess something up more than God can fix it -I’m just not that strong.
    Sorry for the paraphrase.


  2. Thank you for your reply to my comment. I do agree that good can come out of bad and since my financial wipeout 8 years ago which saw me go bankrupt and loose my house, career etc I completely changed my direction in life and now work as a counsellor helping people repair broken relationships. I have a true gift in doing this and would never have taken this part if I had not lost everything.

    I am not sitting around having a pity party in any way. What happened, happened and good did come of it. My point was that there is a price to pay for mistakes and for me the price was financial. Thirty-two years of work wiped out 8 years ago and now my husband and I struggle financially every day. Yes. good came out of it. People I work with are majorly blessed. I love what I do. But there is a price to pay for that and for us that is huge financial issues.

    So I now say if you cannot afford worst case scenario don’t do it.

  3. Inspiring article unfortunately inspiration without practical application. While I understand the analogy between the shoe laces and making mistakes in life I do not agree that it is not possible to make a mistake that God cannot fix. I certainly have attempted to follow God and step out in faith on several occasions. Every time that ended in a mess with personal loss as a consequence. Did God sort/ fix the situation? No. I paid the price for the mess and continue to pay the price for the mess. Paying an extremely high price for a mess from 8 years ago. Totally crippled me financially and continues to do so. Unfortunately this sort of teaching was what got me to step out in faith the times that I did, believing God would be there if it went wrong. I was so mistaken. I now endeavour to persuade anyone thinking of doing something in faith to seriously consider whether or not they can afford the consequences of failure. Knights in shining armour are the stuff of fairly tails. You can totally mess up your life stepping out in faith, doing your best and God will not do a thing about it. Beware. Are you able to pay the cost of failure? Failure is a great teacher but the consequences of failure are yours to bear. If you can’t handle the cost don’t do it. Advice I wish I had been given years ago.

    1. Hi Tracey, I understand where you’re coming from. We have made devastating mistakes as well, and so I know what you’re talking about. Perhaps I should clarify what I mean in the article. If you have made a mistake, God can turn it into something good. It doesn’t mean he undoes what we did and puts everything back the way it was before the mistake. It means he can create beauty from the ashes if we allow it. When I stop fuming about the mess, and start looking for what good could possibly be derived from it, then God works with me to bring the good about, and so far, I can look back on the mistake and view it as a blessing that – as hard or as painful as it was – was worth it, for what I learned in the process, or from what God made of it. I tell about those personal experiences throughout this blog. But the reason I know it is true is because of the Law of Polarity, as explained in Hidden Treasures: Heaven’s Astonishing Help with Your Money Matters (Free). This article was a message to those who are feeling discouraged about mistakes already made, not to those who are looking for an excuse to be careless in their future decisions. We made our devastating mistakes about eight years ago as well. Lots of people did. But how we think about those mistakes in hindsight will have every effect on whether or not the “equal and opposite” good promised will be derived from it.

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