Lately, Henry’s developing confidence with walking has me drawing comparisons to my own life and how I’m moving along. Just over a month ago, he took his first, tentative steps in front of our family at his 1st birthday party. The timing was perfect–all of his grandparents and mom and dad in the room to see it happen, on a day honoring his growth and the biggest milestone of his life to date. Then, for a few weeks, there were no steps at all–not really, at least, unless you count one or two as he passed from mom to dad or vice versa, always straining his arm to reach the closest parent in the process. He was unsteady and unsure, as any one of us has been in that moment when we realize that we’re suddenly on our own for the first time, needing to hold our balance or otherwise take a tumble. Watching him made me want to fast forward time to a space where he was confident and resilient on his own, and yet I didn’t want to rob him of the discovery–the development of his budding freedom. Our cheering section evolved. Suddenly, and with every step, there was pomp and circumstance–a little boost of encouragement for every inch forward he would take. In spite of my own occasional desire to keep him a baby forever, I wanted this victory for him. You could see the strain on his face to figure it out. You could sense the timidity with which he approached each step.
This didn’t feel like Henry to me–our confident, adventurous little soul. In the same way that we want to see our children master a two wheeler, a soccer ball dribble, a math concept, or a relationship challenge, I wanted Henry to know he could do it and to take off. The physics were all there, but the spirit had a little bit of catching up to do. Why is that when we see our children struggle, we often see the struggle in our own lives, too?
Maybe it’s just me and the season I’m in, feeling like I keep having to face things in the natural progression of life that my heart is not quite ready to handle. For Henry, lifting his head and rolling over and crawling (well, army crawling at first) kind of happened without resistance. But crawling to walking is a bigger jump, I think. And it’s taken more of him to figure it out. It’s almost as if he’s had to make peace with the idea of walking, and until he did, he wasn’t going to get very far on his feet.
I watch Henry in the midst of this development and I feel like I’m looking in a mirror. Things in life are going to happen as time goes on, and some of them are a whole lot easier to handle than others. I’m sure that God is watching me, and I know that He is supporting me, just as I am doing so carefully with Henry. Still, there’s a pile of life circumstances stacking up over the past few months that I just can’t get around at the moment…kind of like my first or second tentative steps in each of these experiences. I trust that each is necessary in my walk with God–in the development of my faith, but my tendency is to resist them. Especially at the risk of falling, getting hurt, or having to try over and over to pick myself up again.
Like our budding globe trotter, there is movement in the right direction for me. Walking is not a harmful thing to Henry, but an important change that will ultimately bring him new opportunities everywhere he looks. I don’t know if I can feel the same way about all that I’m mulling over right now, but I do know that I need to trust the process, even if it’s not in my own, comfortable timing.
Over the past few days, HD has suddenly blossomed from two-stepper to daring little walker. He doesn’t seem phased all that much to push off of a piece of furniture and attempt to stay upright. He still tumbles a bit of the time (his tuck and roll technique is impressive:), but more and more, he’s taking three, five, fifteen steps towards any given target. And the look on his face as he just…keeps…going? Priceless. There is more pride in that smile than I could possible capture in words. He is finding his legs. Moving forward. Gaining the freedom to discover all that’s in front of him. I’m sure that with a little practice and some cheering from the sidelines, I will, too.
It’s always humbling to learn from a thirteen month old. Then again, I have no doubt that God uses Henry in my life all of the time to show me the way.
pursuing traction, one step at a time.