Aunt Beth is my mom's only sister. They were five and a half years apart, so they weren't always close. But when I was in high school, we had the chance for my Dad to take a church that was about two hours from a Lutheran church that Aunt Beth and Uncle Mark pastored.
For the short time that the sisters lived geographically so close, they got closer as sisters. And it was nice to see how an adult sibling relationship was supposed to be. You know, since I was 15 and my little sister drove me NUTS! (love you!)
Anyway, in the Christmas card that year was a silver key ring. It is in the shape of footprints and contains the well-known inscription:
"When you saw only one set of footprints,
That was when I carried you."
Timing is everything, isn't it? I've carried those footprints on my key ring since that day in 2004. They are just a touch smaller than my house key and just a bit smaller than my niece Laina's feet when she was born.
I wasn't in a place to trust God to carry me when on January 3, 2000, Laina was born too soon and went to be with Jesus that same night. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite was true. I tried to maintain my "strength" for my little sister, but I'm sure that I failed miserably.
Since I thought I knew better.
And for almost 5 years, I was more than a little mad at God.
Why would he take a baby that he knew that my sister wanted so much?
Why would I never get to hold my niece, or see her beautiful face?
Why am I having to stand at the grave of my niece with my sister?
What in the world does God think He's doing?
And terrified. Terrified of losing someone else that I loved. I literally went around the apartment spraying things with Lysol for years. Thinking that I had the control over whether my family lived or died.
I was gonna get control, dang it.
And the entire time, I'm sure that God was looking down on me thinking "Just give it to me. Let me handle it. I can, you know."
And I'm shaking my fist yelling, "Oh yeah?!? Well, you've really not proven yourself to be very loving! I can do better on my own!"
But can I tell you how exhausting that is? Man, there isn't a more emotionally draining thing in the world to do than resist God and His love.
And I'd probably still be in that place if it weren't for my pastor and my church family. When Mom was diagnosed, they rallied around us and prayed. And helped me to see that I didn't need to carry the fear and burden on my own.
God is bigger. He can do it.
And He has. She's been cancer free for almost 4 years. And she and I are closer as mother and daughter. And little by little our entire family is closer as well.
And can I tell you how freeing it is to have peace concerning the outcome for my Dad? Because no matter what, God can do good.
And I've surrendered to being carried.