It’s been a favorite pastime of my daughter and mine to go to stores and try on crazy shoes we’d never really consider (or could afford) buying. You know the ones – four-inch spiky gold heels, strappy blue-leather wedges, furry neon pink ballet slippers. As far as we’re concerned, the wilder, the better. We never actually buy any of these – but we love to laugh at just the sight of each other in shoes we’d really never have any occassion to wear. We’ve been doing this since my daughter was about five, when her little feet wouldn’t even come close to fitting my size. It didn’t matter, though…she’d still be in the same aisle as me, trying on the same size shoe I would and having a grand old time clomping around.
The other day, after we finished our annual school supply shopping trip, we decided to reward ourselves with a visit to the clearance aisles of DSW. However, this time as we began to try on shoes, I realized with a twinge of sadness that now my daughter actually does belong in the same shoe aisle as I do. (She’s just a fraction of an inch away from reaching my shoe size.) As Ella grabbed a pair of multi-colored sequin heels to shove on her feet, she asked if I remembered the time that she nearly twisted her ankle in a tall pair of shoes while she was running.
“Hmmm….I don’t remember. When was that?” I asked
“It was when we were picking up Joe from youth group,” she replied.
And as I casually carried on the conversation as if it were completely natural, I nearly wanted to cry tears of joy right there in the size 7.5 clearance aisle. You see, that was the second time in over ten months that I’ve heard my daughter speak her brother’s name out loud.
One giant baby step.
Upon returning home from our shopping adventures, I suggested to Ella that she keep her school supplies on Joe’s bed, so that our dog wouldn’t get into the new items and ruin them. She hesitated (as she rarely goes into her brother’s room), but then thought about it and went into his room to set the bags down.
Two giant baby steps.
Later that evening, I decided to go into Joe’s room and clean out his drawer of leftover school supplies. After a few minutes of tossing old pencils, markers, and dried-up glue sticks into a trash bag, Ella wandered in and announced she was going to get her supplies all ready. She proceeded to plop herself down right in the middle of Joe’s floor and begin the organization process. As we both sat in that room – me tossing out the old, and her opening up the new – I couldn’t help but praise God for this very moment. We were both spending time in a room that has been so difficult to even step foot in for nearly a year.
Three giant baby steps. In one day.
And if she could do three giant baby steps in one day, then I decided I could take a few myself.
The next morning, I went into Joe’s room and did things I never thought I’d be able to do. I dusted furniture. I took down the 2016 wall calendar that was still open to September. I moved a couple of things around. Put books back on the shelf. Neatly organized the shoes that had been tossed in the closet. And the big one: I washed the glass that had been sitting next to my son’s computer since the last day he drank from it. It was time. And as difficult as it was, I told myself that doing so wouldn’t erase any memory of my sweet boy from my mind. It wouldn’t change how much I loved him – or still love him.
There’s still more to do in his room. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow. And maybe I won’t. I’ve learned in grief to have low expectations and high levels of grace. (Trust me – not easy for a type-A, task-oriented girl like me.) I might set a goal and have every intention of making it happen, but not be able to do it when the time comes. And I’m learning that that’s OK. God is teaching me that my list, my agenda, and my plans may not be His own.
What about you? You may not be grieving the loss of a child, but are you allowing yourself grace when it comes to your expectations for your life? Maybe life didn’t turn out at all how you thought it would. Maybe you’re beating yourself up for not accomplishing more in your life. Maybe you’re really good at playing the game of “If I had just done this instead….” Oh friend, do not fall into that pit! Do not think for a second, that anything that has happened to you is wasted. God is using it ALL for His glory. It is ALL part of His ultimate good for those who love Him! He has positioned you right where He wants you. And He is ready for you to take those steps – however big or small – to His outstretched arms.
For my daughter, it was in the clearance shoe aisle this week. For me, it was picking up that dirty glass and walking it to the dishwasher. To most, it might seem insignificant. But to us, it was taking giant baby steps of healing towards our Father, who stood ready to pull us into His loving embrace.