“Crooked Sidewalks” is a picture God gave me a year or so ago that I’m just now starting to put together and understand. We live in the city, and because of that our daughter Avery will grow up in the city. I am not unaware of what this means and could mean to Avery. Life could be hard and not always fair. The education isn’t as great, the violence is close to our house, and the people have different upbringings and backgrounds that can make it hard to relate to at times. As a wife to Kory, it wasn’t that hard to adjust to life in the city. It was an adventure with little to sacrifice. Now as a momma to Avery, there is more I’ve had to sacrifice. I realize that she may not have all the bells and whistles in her childhood. Sometimes that’s sad to me and other times it’s exciting. Sometimes it’s scary and other times I’m at peace with it. Sometimes I’m nervous and other times I’m refreshed by it.
When Avery started to learn to walk, that’s all she wanted to do. She quickly learned that when she put her shoes on and when I put my shoes on she would get to go outside and walk. She started to bring me my shoes all the time. When I was doing dishes, when I was folding laundry, when I was cooking dinner, here comes Avery with my shoes in hand, setting them down in front of me and pointing at the door. Her first word was “mama” second, “dada” and I think third was “walk.” The good news is there are a lot of places to walk when you live in the city and a lot of sidewalks. The problem is the cement is all broken up, jagged, uneven and crooked. This is problematic when you can walk much less when you are learning to walk. I don’t know how many times I caught my breath and tried to save Avery from falling and scraping knee after knee after knee. Let’s just put it this way, she had scraped up knees quite often. But now…now she sails across those sidewalks easier and swifter than an adult. I trip more than she does. I watch her dominate those jagged edges as if she’s memorized them. “Big step” I’ll shout out to Avery as she is a bit ahead and I can visualize a fall. “Watch, out, Avery.” “Be careful.” I don’t even think she hears me, she confidently marches on as if she were born to walk the crooked sidewalks.
And that’s when I realize that she was. She is born to walk the crooked sidewalks. I believe that God knew all along that Avery Lantz would grow up in the city, amidst difficulty and obstacles. Yes, there will be messiness and pain that we will not be sheltered from as a family. There will be conversations at an early age, trying to make sense of things she will see and start to hear. There will be questions we won’t be able to answer, and things we will not be able to keep her safe from. But as I watch her walk the crooked sidewalks, I think she will be just fine. I think she will learn the bumps and understand she has to adjust in order not to fall. I think I will be the one yelling, “Avery, big step.” “Watch out!” “Be careful.” And she may not even need to hear it, because she’s already a step ahead, doing what she was born to do, walk the crooked sidewalks.
Often times, God asks me to walk the crooked sidewalks as well and I drag my feet and complain. Why can’t I have nice smooth, groomed and flat sidewalks? If you gave me those sidewalks, God, I would be able to run for you, not just walk! But he doesn’t let me stay there, he pushes me to keep walking; over every jagged bump, through all the shattered glass. And as I walk these crooked sidewalks day in and day out, I learn to see the beauty in the brokenness, beauty in the uneven ground. I pay attention a little bit more when the path starts to smooth out.
I’m thankful for both of my daughters, Avery and Karis, who have taught me how to walk on the crooked sidewalks.