The joy of seeing footprints

Published 7:12 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2017

When I was a little girl, every time I saw a puddle in the street I would walk through it and then watch my footprints form on the dry part of the pavement.  The other day was no exception. I just can’t resist.

There are some things we never outgrow. When young, watching the footprints form was just a fun thing to do.  Now when I see the outline of my feet, a deep appreciation fills my soul.

Mary Stevenson wrote a beautiful poem in 1936 called, “Footprints in the Sand.”  Valuable wisdom is in her words.

In the early 1980’s a friend cross-stitched the poem, framed it, and gave it to me as a gift because she knew how much I loved it.   It hangs in my hall and I visit it often to read the words that today I truly understand.

There is not a person on earth that hasn’t had moments that stop our hearts or hours that were unbearable. Phone calls that brought devastating news and disbelief.  How did we survive?

When we were both just fifteen, I watched my good friend go through the loss of her mother. I remember thinking, “If I were her, I couldn’t stand it! I would surely die!” Yet, she was somehow standing strong. “How?”

“I think the Lord is helping me,” she said when I asked her.

As I journeyed further into life, I experienced a very difficult time in my twenties. I remember thinking, “I can’t survive this!”  My strength was gone, life was completely on the brink, and I could not see tomorrow at all.

Well, I am writing you today. “How?”

I have seen sadness unfold all around me.  I have witnessed friends who have suffered a myriad of tragedies, including children’s deaths and devastating illnesses.

These same friends that have experienced deep, profound heartaches are today smiling, giving, and loving onward. Difficult? Yes, of course, but, “How?”

People ask me many times, “How did you survive some of the things you went through?” When they do, I think of my friend, Kathy, and repeat her words. “I think the good Lord helped me.”

There are many folks who have a hard time understanding the amazing gifts that God gives us to survive in this life. The gift of faith is just one of them. For me, it is the most important of all.

When terrible misfortunes come our way, a lot of people ask, “Why did God allow this to happen?”  I understand. I think since we don’t yet live in paradise, bad things are going to happen. None of us are immune to tragedy and sorrow.

I don’t blame God for the heartache that life hands me. I just learned to take His hand.  I feel God cries when I do, just like any good father would.

Faith gives us the ability to reach up for help and truly believe that we will one day see those that we mourn, those that have suffered unbelievable heartache, alive and well in a place that is literally paradise.

I know I sound right “preachy” here, but having lived a while, I know it is just the gospel truth. And, you all know, I am not afraid to say it.

When I glance back at my life, I realize that the only way I got through tough times was because God picked me up and carried me down the road. There is no way I could have done it on my own.

There are two categories one can fall into when tragedy strikes. You can fall into resentment, anger or into a spiritual abyss. Or, you can fall into the arms of God and let him carry you when you can’t walk. When you let God share your tragedy, your strength will rise, your faith will sustain you, and it is amazing how that God-given courage carries forward.

Kathy’s strength did. So many have picked up grief and moved it to help others. They have replaced tears with smiles, and hopelessness with faith. When they do, God just shines right through them.
“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only one set of footprints.

I don’t understand why when I need you most you would leave me.”

The Lord replied:

“My precious child, I love you and I would never leave you.

During your times of trial and suffering, when you only saw one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

Mary Stevenson, 1936

Yes, I still walk through puddles today.  I look back at my footprints and realize I always see, through faith, four.

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a former resident and writer who currently resides in Roswell. She can be reached at