This is a totally different post for me, but it’s one God placed on my heart. Over several weeks, I kept feeling the need to revisit the poem “Footprints in the Sand.” My schedule has been so hectic that I continued to push it off. Well, my schedule got completely wiped out after a surgery, and one morning I woke up and this poured out. I hope God knows who needs to read this. I pray I honored Him by writing it. ~ God’s blessings to you, Angela
Daunting dreams plagued my sleep. I was at my wits end. The last night it happened, I got up, slipped on my robe, and went out to sit on the porch. I could hear the waves lapping at the shoreline. The stars were in abundance, shining so brightly I felt I could see forever. I heard a dog barking in the distance. The treble behind the bark sounded irritated and lonely. I understood.
Over the last few years my foundational roots had been shaken. My husband announced he needed some space. Needed to think about where his life was going. What he was really trying to say was he didn’t want me. I got it, but it still hurt. That was three years ago. After a year of watching him disappear from my life, I was given a hefty settlement, bought a small bungalow on the beach, and sulked.
The first six months I walked the beach daily, sometimes two or three times a day. I tried not to think about where life was going or what I was going to do with the rest of mine. When I wasn’t walking, I was lying on the couch doing nothing but staring at the ceiling. There are five cracks up there. I’ve named them all. Anger. Insult. Fear. Loss. Brokenness. It doesn’t help that they don’t talk back to me. It makes me feel inconsequential like the sixth crack that’s just surfaced near the kitchen.
When I got the call that mother was dying, I told my brother I’d come home. On day three I packed a small bag and left. The drive was excruciating. Our last visit had been wonderful, too wonderful. She kept telling all the things I wish I felt; wish my husband had told me. I knew she meant it, but it didn’t heal what had grown inside me, killing me like cancer was killing her.
At the funeral, I sat with my brother and his family. My son called the morning of the funeral with bold excuses of his corporate life on steroids. Not one word about his grandmother. Not even a second to ask about his mother. His last comment was “stay strong”. Ass.
All of this and more . . . one disappointment after another kept ravaging me. I lost focus of the gorgeous sky, the soothing rhythm of the waves, and the wind gently ruffling my hair. I was steeped in a cesspool and didn’t want out.
When the sun crested over the horizon spreading orange stripes across a purple-gray mass, I got up and began my morning walk. In the wee hours of the morning I had searched to find a reason to exist, to move forward. I found none. Looking out across the expanse of sand, I watched life scurrying around with purpose. I dropped my head and noticed one set of footprints.
I stopped to examine them, seeing them stretch out as far as the eye could see. When I looked backed down I slipped my foot into the nearest impression. It slid in as if it were the perfect glass slipper. So I kept walking, burying my feet into each footprint. The stride was perfect, almost as if I had walked this earlier.
As I progressed forward the steps grew deeper, more mired down. I felt tension rising, realizing this was my life spread out before me. Alone. Abandoned. Forsaken. My heart throbbed, and I began to cry. Tears flowed freely. By now I could barely lift my feet out of the sand. Each depression came halfway up my calf.
Exhausted I sank to my knees, drawing my torso down, head to knee, and closed my eyes. A natural rocking motion began. An image of Mama surfaced. She was pulling me into her lap, wrapping her arms around my fifteen year old body, and humming. Mama always hummed when she felt words would fall flat. So I began to hum and rock and hum and rock, keeping Mama’s face held tightly behind closed lids.
The wind began to pick up, disrupting my rocking as it tossed me side-to-side, and blurring Mama’s image as my eyes flew open. The waves were pounding the surf. The skies had deepened into angry black thunder clouds. Out of fear, I ran, trying to keep my feet within the footprints, but they were filling in and disappearing. Lightning coursed the sky. Thunder shook the earth. Rain pelted, stinging as it hit exposed skin.
Throwing my hand to my forehead to shield my eyes, I tried to look ahead for some type of protection. That’s when I noticed that all the footprints were gone. Nothing was in sight. I turned toward the expanse of anger rupturing the sky and screamed, “Where are You?” I pounded my feet until they became encased in sand-mire. I was pinned, looking out at creation mimicking my storm, my brokenness.
I raised my fist toward the crackling, fiery sky, “Where are You? You said you’d never leave me. You’re no better than anyone else in my life. You’ve abandoned me, too.”
The wind whirled around me but I dug in, shaking my fist over and over again in open defiance. I beat at the wind, and the wind beat back. I felt I was in the fight for my life. Every pent up despair, disappointment, and discouragement flew out of my mouth, even things I had long forgotten. I battled the storm harder, struggling to keep my balance until my arms finally dropped, numb from exertion. That’s when I noticed the large wave in front of me rising higher and higher, aimed for a direct hit.
Right before impact, I lowered my head, squeezed my eyes shut, and whispered, “Save me, Lord. I need You.”
A soothing mist lit on my skin, fingertips of cooling moisture. The wind ceased its turbulence, and the sun’s rays warmed my back. The earth had silenced and stilled.
Keeping my eyes closed, I lifted my head to embrace the warmth, letting it seep deep into my soul. I inhaled, expanding my chest, letting the heady fragrance of salt spray and sea life linger before opening my eyes. And there they were . . . footprints. Not one set, but two.
God had never left me. Never abandoned me. He was there through all the broken mess of life. As I gazed upward, I saw a rainbow stretching across the horizon. God’s promise. I felt the stirrings of renewal and rebirth. I’d left so much behind thinking I wasn’t worthy and couldn’t cope. I remembered all the cards, letters, phone calls, texts, and emails. I had answered none of them; and yet, they still came.
Hope. I felt it streaming inside me like a living being filling me up. “Thank you, Lord for never leaving me when I walked away. Strengthen me as I walk back into life. Speak courage and love over me until I believe it again. In You I will finally find wholeness.”
I ran home. I couldn’t wait to open the door to a new life, knowing who I am is not who I was, but who I will be in Christ.