I just got home from a stay with my son and his family and the grandchildren. Our baby girl is learning to walk at 11 months old.
I watched her on the last visit learn to pull herself up to solid objects and walk around them. Then I watched her stand beside the object without holding on. Next she learned how to stand up from a floor position without anything to hang on to.
This visit she was taking steps between things that were closely situated like the sofa and a side chair or the ottoman. I kept trying to get her to hold on to one finger and walk with me. At first she would take two or three steps and fall down. Then she got her courage up and would walk a little further before she plopped down. Finally, she would walk from one room into the next or even through a room and a half before she took a break and sat down on the job.
Before I left she was taking up to 15 or 20 steps on her own. She was so proud of herself! She would clap her hands and say, “Yay!” or “Good job!” She has already learned to encourage herself.
The amazing thing about watching her was that she didn’t seem to mind the times she fell down or the times she gave up and sat down. She’d pop right back up and try again.
It occurred to me that in our Christian lives we start off crawling, and in absolute need of someone else’s help to stand up and remain steady.
Then we begin to gain strength and start standing on our own. Next, we learn to walk with baby steps. As unsure as those steps might be, they move us forward, closer to the goal that we hope to reach.
We fall down. We get back up. Over and over we keep trying to get it right. Eventually we learn to stand on our own and start taking those small steps that mean so much. In time, we can run with other children, and finally can keep up with other runners.
Oftentimes we want to skip all of the in between learning steps in life and just get what we want without doing the work in between. Just like a baby growing into the ability to walk, we must learn to grow in our abilities, talents, and desires. We may not like the crawling phase, but at least crawling takes us forward. And in the process we are learning skills that take us to the next step.
I’ve heard parents of recent high school graduates talking about their children getting jobs. I haven’t heard a single one whose goal is for their child to spend the rest of their life at a fast food restaurant flipping burgers or doing dishes. They imagine them in supervisory roles, running offices, being the boss, having a top job and good pay.
Realistically, we all have to learn the skills at one level before we can move to the next level.
We wouldn’t want a brain surgeon to pick up a scalpel and start cutting on our brain without having had a lot of training before he got to that point. We wouldn’t want someone who hadn’t learned how to balance their check book to be the president of our bank. We wouldn’t want the person who is supposed to repair our car to only have worked on bicycles.
It is good to have goals and big dreams in life. However, no matter what those goals and dreams happen to be, we will never get there unless we are willing to learn and be happy with baby steps in the beginning of our journey toward those goals.