Thanksgiving feast day in first grade. It’s a good one. My baby boy’s precious teacher made sure every detail was just perfect. They set the table with perfect etiquette, used their manners, had little gentlemen pull out chairs for little ladies, and even blessed the meal in our wonderful little public school. The placemats for each student included a handprint turkey, several sentences about what they were thankful for, and then– the best part– every student wrote down what they were thankful for about each of their friends. Looking down at Roman’s mat, it was covered in twenty first grade ambitious little scrawlings. Most of them said, “He is funny.”
This is the same child who, in PreK, had twenty classmates who gasped at Christmas when they realized he could actually talk. He had never said a single word prior. In Kindergarten, he crawled a little bit further out of his shell. And now in first grade, he carries enough conversation for his most known attribute to be funny? Incredible.
While we are finally hopeful we won’t have to peel him off my leg when we drop him off to college, there are still times when we are walking into an unfamiliar place that I feel his little hand reach for mine. He grips it tight, finds his confidence, and keeps walking. I hope I never forget the feeling of that tiny little thumb resting in my palm, looking for strength.
I just got home from three days at a majestic retreat center in sunny Southern California. I’m not certain there is any earthly destination that more closely resembles heaven. The landscape was stunning with the sunsets exploding into color over canyons and horses majestically roaming through the pastures. But none of that rivaled the knowledge and connections gained– those were almost supernatural. It was clear that God had not overlooked one tiny detail, and each of us was exactly where we needed to be. I found practical wisdom in our classes, encouraging camaraderie around the campfire, and hope infused into the dreams of my heart. I arrived only knowing I needed to take that one step to be there, but I left with a clear direction for my ambitions.
I made the drive back to the airport inspired, but somehow it all felt a little surreal. After three incredible days away living in a dreamland, I was headed back to the real world. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love the life I have here. But I knew that returning with the momentum I had gained meant making some personal changes to keep moving forward.
I settled into my seat on the plane and prepared to take off. Having nothing downloaded for offline listening and with headphones nearly dead anyway, I was left with only a million thoughts charging through my brain. I took out my journal and a pen and began to write, but as we began to taxi toward the runway, I paused to look out the window. The plane began to gain speed, and we angled up as I watched all of San Diego quickly fade behind. I wondered to myself if this was all just a dream, and I vowed to the same that I wouldn’t stop taking one step at a time toward all that I want to accomplish. I felt reality and fear begin to slowly saunter towards my heart, and I whispered this simple prayer, Jesus, please just hold my hand.
Like a little girl walking toward an unfamiliar place, I needed to reach my hand to His– grip it tight, find my confidence, and keep walking.
And maybe you find yourself there too. Fear quaking inside your heart looking for strength to carry on.
Perhaps it’s the diagnosis you weren’t expecting.
Maybe it’s the marriage slowly starting to crumble.
Possibly the death of a father who was the cornerstone of the family.
It could be a new job opportunity you aren’t sure how you landed.
Maybe loneliness and depression are knocking at your door.
Perhaps it’s the betrayal of a friend you thought was forever.
Whatever it is you are facing, reach out. I have never once reached for God’s hand to find it wasn’t there. It is in that moment, with our hand in His– that we can hold tight, find our confidence, and keep going. His open hand is waiting, and I know that when we place our hand in His, we have everything we need for today and more strength will be waiting for tomorrow.
Simply reach out.