There have been countless moments of joy over the past year, watching my little girl transform from a newborn baby to a hilarious, personality filled, and toddling little sponge. One of the great privileges of being her mom has been watching her learn how to walk.
Who knew that so much could change so quickly?
It’s amazing to think that in a just a short year, she’s gone from laying around sleeping, to rolling over, to sitting, to pulling herself up, to standing, to walking along furniture, to walking finally walking on her own. The year passed so quickly that it’s difficult to pinpoint when exactly change happened. I know for certain that I marvel at how far she’s come and how quickly she’s learned.
When she first showed an interest in standing, we thought for sure she’d skip crawling and go straight to walking. She loved to be on her feet, but she fooled us a bit. It ended up being quite a bit longer between when she looked as though she was ready, and when she truly was ready to take those first steps on her own. She spent a few months just standing, tightly gripping whatever would help her keep her balance as she was taking in the world from this new perspective. She would go back and forth between crawling, as if she felt it were the safer option than to risk falling.
I can just imagine her thinking, the view from up here is way better!
As you well know, when a baby is learning to walk, isn’t without its share of stumbles. When Sophie took her first steps, she was very unstable. She would often rock from side to side and then often lose her balance in slow motion. She wasn’t a very graceful faller either as she often resembled a towering tree rather than a tumbling toddler. It was some time before she even learned to fall “properly” as in realized her knees could actually bend and her hands out to shield her head and face from taking the brunt of the fall.
I knew learning to walk was going to be a bit of a process, and of course, there was going to be some days of bad tumbles alongside the days of small victories. I can remember a few particularly bad falls. Many of them were followed by piercing screams of pain and a few days of sporting a nice bruise, scab or road rash somewhere on her face.
As her mom, I knew that falling was a painful yet inevitable part of the journey of looking to walk. My hope was that the small tumbles didn’t cause any permanent damage and of course, didn't discourage her from getting back up and trying again. Each time she took a little tumble, her dad or I would lift her back to her feet, shorten the distance that needed to be traveled and encourage her like crazy to try again.
The day my friend said, I would call that walking!
(Not that you can tell from this picture!)
It’s funny that how a baby learns to walk is quite different than how we teach “grown-ups.” I didn’t sit down with Sophie and explain to her the biomechanics of taking a right step, a left and then how to put them together while also considering the equilibrium of balancing and centre of gravity. I didn’t expect her to understand and implement those ridiculous and non-existent instructions immediately. She wasn’t going to fully understand the process before starting out. I simply watched for signs that she was ready, and then cheered her on as she braved the next step.
It’s easy for those who’ve been on a walk with God for a while to forget the challenges that accompany someone who is just learning. As you mature, walking becomes very natural and on an ordinary day, is not something that is likely to cause you to stumble.
We don’t remember what it was like to be 1 and how it felt to discover only by experience, the uneven ground that will easily trip you up, the center of gravity that is required to stay between your feet, or the difficulty of the simple task of putting one foot in front of the other.
How foolish it would’ve been if Sophie’s stumbles were met with a lecture or a scolding about how she should have gotten it by now, or how it really wasn’t that complicated to walk, she should just do it. That approach wouldn’t help her get back on her feet and learn to do it any faster. Unfortunately, that can be the approach we take without realizing it when we're dealing with spiritual walking.
My priority was that no matter how many times it took, that she would get back up and continue trying and making progress until she got it.
As I watched my precious girl learn to take her first steps, God was teaching me something about how He has called me to walk with those who are learning, whether they’re learning to walk by faith, walk in freedom, or walk alongside someone else. No matter what kind of walk, God desires to meet the various challenges with His unchanging truth coated in grace.
Walking. It sounds simple right? I'll let you in on a little not-so-rocket-science secret. Much of it has to do with keeping your eyes on the prize.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith..." (Hebrews 12:2)