In February, as the rain gave way to sunshine and the warm rays of sun began streaming through the house, we just had to get outside. Donning her ‘every-day’ shoes, (which is nothing more than the dirty ones), I take my 1 year old out into God’s sprouting beauty. She jabbers as she sprints down the steps into the green stuff growing in what used to be dirt. Happiness is bubbling from every fiber of her very being.
As she plays with rocks, sticks, bits of paper she finds in the yard, etc. I make my way to the storage building to find some misplaced paperwork. I begin pulling boxes out that I know I’ve looked in, move the baby swing over, take out the infant car-seat, etc. There’s a box, way in the back that I have yet to examine. As I open the lid, I find a pair of brown, boat-shoes, previously worn by my now 18 year old daughter. We had no children in between, so my life consists of 2 families, per se. The shoes appear to fit. I set them aside not realizing what God was revealing to me at this very moment through these little shoes.
I begin backing out of the building, when I bump into something…my toddler has found her way into the confines of the building to see what Moma is doing. She tries to get out of the way but it’s too late, she falls out onto her bottom. Looking up, her look says “Moma, why’d you do that?” I reach down to apologize and brush her off. She smiles and looks into my eyes as if to say, it’s ok, it didn’t hurt.
We head into the house. My little one follows about 5 paces behind me, not wanting to go in. I retrieve a damp cloth to wipe off the shoes, a treasure that both my babies will share. When your children are 17 years apart, there are no hand-me-downs to speak of. I gave away most of my eldest daughters things after about 5 years. I know the age of the other ‘special’ things that I did keep wouldn’t wear too well on this active 1 year old.
The following day, Sunday, I take the treasure from the previous day and size them up on my baby. A perfect fit. She sports them around showing them to her Daddy as he heads to the kitchen for breakfast. She walks intently behind him, making questioning noises until he stops to acknowledge her. “Those are pretty shoes,” he says. She smiles, satisfied and turns to gather up the books she has strewn on the floor.
I ponder the significance of this event in our lives. Our eldest daughter is currently pursuing God’s direction in her life, and our toddler is literally “walking in her shoes.” I remember my eldest walking in these very shoes, how proud I was to have been able to buy them. I bought them because I knew they would stand up to a toddler. I had no idea they would be worn again, 18 years later, by my second child.
Because our children are so far apart in age, it is easy to think back on events of our eldest daughter and compare them to this one. It is easy to remember what this one was doing at the same age as this one, etc. I realize daily how much I have stored in my memory bank as my eldest was growing up.
“Walking in another’s shoes” is an old cliché akin to making judgments or comparisons of what you think you would do in their present situation. This instance of the same cliché’ took on a whole new meaning when I realized how true those words were now ringing. My baby is taking the very steps my eldest took, many years before. Will she make some of the same choices? Will she choose some of the same paths? Will she make some of the same mistakes? No-one, besides God knows. As a result my eldest daughter has an awesome responsibility, totally unknown to her.
When your children are closer in age it is more evident that one is looking up to another, or mocking their movements and words. Our children live in two different houses, (the eldest involved in a ministry internship an living on campus) about 2 hours apart, 90% of the time. Yet, their connection is evident every time they are together, speak on the phone or even see photos. They’re lives are so different, but their very paths may cross several times over in the next several years. In more ways than one.
God knew our eldest daughters steps even before she took them. He knew which path she would choose when approaching the Y in the road and he knew which door she would ultimately go through. Just as He knows what this second child in the same little brown shoes will do. He offers the same umbrella of protection for this child as he did for the first. I’m grateful the little brown shoes are there to remind me how blessed I am for the steps my daughter, through God has taken. To prove that life is so worth living, with the retracing of those steps through God and my second daughter, 18 years later.
Shanna Hoskison (c) Feb 26, 2001 accepted for publication in "God Allows-U Turns--especially for Women" edition apx release date, Jan--2002 [www.godallowsuturns.com]