By Anne Maxson
There is a well-known poem entitled, “Footprints in the Sand.” It teaches a lesson of hope during times of loneliness, to help us know that even if it appears we are alone, the Lord is with us to support us and carry us through those difficult times. Recently instead of snow, I learned some lessons from footprints in the snow.
We woke up to a fresh layer of white coating our streets and sidewalks. Instead of dealing with driving on untreated, icy, and slushy streets, my son and I decided to walk the short distance to school. After I dropped off my son, I started the walk home and was struck by a few thoughts when I saw our tracks laid out in front of me.
When we first started out, my son said he was going to walk in the tracks that I had left.
Eventually, he decided to blaze his own trail and his tracks were side-by-side with mine.
The lyrics of the song, “I Am a Child of God” came to my mind as I looked at our tracks. “Lead me, guide me, walk beside me.” At the beginning of our path, there was only one set of footprints, not because I was carrying him, but because he was following so closely and with such exactness.
After following my “lead” very closely for some time and gaining confidence, he moved to the side to “walk beside me.” There were some points where there were encroaching branches on the sidewalk and he again started walking through the tracks I had made. There is a parallel path in life’s journey. During the beginning of different stages of life as well as times when obstacles come into our path, it can be essential to follow closely in the footprints of one who has been there and can lead and guide you through it.
As you learn and gain confidence from following closely, you can move out and walk beside those that guide you, having confidence that they will be there with you all along the way until you are ready to finish the journey on your own.
When we got closer to the school, I asked him how far he wanted me to walk with him. Since he’s getting older, we were still a bit away from the school when he said he wanted to say goodbye there. At that point, his solitary tracks moved on and mine turned to head back along the path we had taken.
As the one leading and guiding on that morning, I was grateful for the privilege to help my son find his way along that path. I was grateful for his willingness to walk beside me. Additionally, I couldn’t help but think that I learn a lot from both of my kids. This past year was the first year that my older son was able to attend the temple. As he made his goals about how often he wanted to attend, he motivated all of us to match his timeline, including some very early mornings so he could go to the temple before school. I think my kids often are the ones that lead and guide me. We are definitely better together and supporting and helping one another along the path.
It was a great opportunity to reflect on who else has helped me along the path, whether friends, family, teachers, or others that have had an influence on me. Additionally, the Savior is always there to not only carry us as exemplified in the “Footprints in the Sand” poem but to also guide us along the covenant path.