For the past two months, I have walked to the end of our block and back hundreds of times. Multiple times a day I help June's put her socks, shoes and coat on, and we walk out the front door. I help her down our porch stairs and onto the sidewalk, where she reaches up to grab the end of my pointer finger, and off we go.
We usually walk to the end of the block, sometimes a little further, turn around and walk back. June will point with her free hand and say, "Oooooo!" to cars, lights, rocks, sticks, dandelions and the three garden lamps she has to touch every time in front of our neighbors house.
There are times when June picks up the pace and starts grunting as she hustles down the street, causing me to smile from ear to ear because it's the funniest thing ever. There are times when we stop and look at the ground while she points at what looks like nothing. There are times when she looses her grip on my finger and falls to her knees. And there was the one time she lost her balance and grip and fell on her face (let's not tell mom about that one 😬 ). My bad, June!
June has taken a steps on her own quite a few times, but when we are on our sidewalk strolls she HAS to hold onto my finger. The second I try to slide it out from her grip she sumo squats down slowly to the ground and sits.
I am fully confident in her ability to walk on her own, but she needs to hold onto the end of my finger as we explore the great unknowns of Penn Street. My hand is safety and security for her and I am happy to oblige, because I love the walks and I love our time together. I love seeing her engage with life and if she needs the safety of her father's grip to do that, then I am more than happy to give it t
But here is what I know. Eventually, I will have to let go and let her figure out how to walk without me. I will do so with a little fear because I know that she will tumble, fall, cry and scrape her cute little legs. When she no longer needs my help I will play the role of cheerleader, doctor and safety net if a fall looks like it will be more than just a scraped knee. But, I will let her fall from time to time as she works through what it means to balance, take steps, walk, stop, sit down, get up, find balance again, and so on.
As I navigate fatherhood, I find that God is constantly revealing more truths to me through my relationship with June. I care and love June more than I ever thought I would and it is nothing compared to God's love for me. And as I let go of June's little, very sweaty, hand and let her brave the unknown, I know that I will be right there. I will be one step behind her, ready to catch her, care for her and love her when the falls hurt. I will be one step in front of her when she breaks her record of 15 steps to catch her, pick her up and twirl her around. I will be one step behind her when she goes from a walk to a run and a run to a fall. I will be there even when my grip is not.
My love and care does not go away when the end of my finger isn't in her grasp.
Yet at times, in my life, I find that I am angry with God because I can't "feel" His presence and don't totally understand why something is happening to me. I find it very challenging at times to feel like I am walking with Jesus, yet when I reach my hand up for support, I don't see His. It's at those moments that I want to sumo squat to the ground and throw a fit and cry, because I am frustrated He isn't just helping me take the steps I want to take. When June sumo squats down to the sidewalk during our walks they become pretty uneventful pretty quickly. We go from moving and exploring to sitting and doing nothing. Are we doing the same thing in our walk with God? Have we sat down in the middle of it because we are scared He has lost His grip? Instead of realizing that maybe we are just a few steps of faith away from breakthrough. Instead of sitting on the ground out of fear maybe we should keep moving forward because He is right behind us, ready to catch us. Or, even better, maybe He is right in front of us ready to celebrate a new victory or breakthrough!
I know that when my daughter finally starts to walk on her own she is going to take off. She can already really move while holding my hand and when she finally conquers the fear she needs to in order to let go there won't be anything holding her back. I am excited to watch it happen, eager to experience it and thrilled to be able to share in the joy of all it brings!
And here is the crazy part - I am a bad father compared to God, so if I am this excited about my daughter having a little faith to let go and believe she can do it, how much more will God be thrilled to watch you do the same?
Taking those first steps of faith is terrifying. Maybe it's taking steps in a job, or steps towards how you should manage your money, or the steps needed to talk to someone about something intense. Whatever it is, I know that it can be scary, because I have my own steps of faith I need to take. I know I might need to take them even when it feels like God isn't holding my hand through them. But as I live my life, here is what I have realized over and over again - He is either right behind you, ready to catch you and care for you, or right in front of you ready to pick you up and celebrate with you. Either way the steps of faith you take will end the same way, in your Father's arms, surrounded by His love and with a deeper understanding and knowledge of who He is and how much He loves you!