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The Companion’s Prayer: Pointing Our Kids to Trust Along Life’s Uncharted Paths

The Companion’s Prayer: Pointing Our Kids to Trust Along Life’s Uncharted Paths

Over the past year, I’ve been called to companion my thirteen-year-old daughter through challenging new territories due to a severe health issue. I use this word as a verb because though I am actively moving alongside her, I cannot take this journey for her. My role is to walk beside my daughter as a calm and steady Encourager.

Some days, embracing that role is harder than others, particularly when we are required to go to unfamiliar locations. New hospitals, new routes, and new traffic jams create angst for me, a severely directionally challenged person. But I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, I remind myself, so I focus on a calming mantra to give me direction.

One of my most commonly used mantras is: Look Up.

Actually, what I say to myself is, “Look up. Don’t miss the squirrel.”

This unique mantra was inspired by the young lady I am companioning along her health journey. Avery is what I call a Noticer of Life, and the Look Up mantra was born one morning while I was dropping her off at school.

“There he is!” Avery squealed, and pointed to an unusually plump squirrel flittering about the leaves. “That’s the friendly squirrel who comes to Mr. H’s window at 5th period! Amy nudges me, and we watch him run up and down the tree at high rates of speed. Pretty soon, he’s got the whole classroom’s attention. It’s like he’s putting on a show for us. It’s like he knows we need some joy in our lives,” she said smiling.

Just imagining a classroom of middle schoolers joyfully captivated by a squirrel with a big personality brought me inexplicable peace. I could see the student’s faces being cupped in God’s loving hands — hands that said, “Look up, precious child … breathe … laugh … live.”

In that moment, I knew I’d never forget that squirrel or the uplifting mental image of the children. Little did I know how much I would refer to both as I accompanied Avery through a time of uncertainty.

On one particular day, the Look Up mantra got us through morning rush hour traffic; it got us through the parking garage with no places to park; it got us through the hospital elevator with too many options. I thought it had even gotten us to the correct office on the second floor, but I was mistaken.

“Oh, that doctor is in the other building,” the receptionist said.

My heart sank. Now we would be late. Now I would be lost. My hands started sweating.

As if reading my mind, the receptionist cheerfully said, “You don’t have to move your car. You can just go back to the parking garage and look for the paw prints. The paw prints will lead you right to the other building.”

I couldn’t believe my ears! The woman did not use confusing directions like north, south, left, right, she simply said, “Go back to where you started and follow the animal-friendly signs.”
I began reciting the steps back to the woman when she handed me a piece of paper with the directions written down! Through tearful eyes, those directions looked an awful lot like my favorite verse: Isaiah 41:10.

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

With directions in hand, Avery and I made it back to the parking garage. We turned our heads every which way, searching for those magical paw prints. Yet, all we could see were gray, concrete walls. I started feeling skeptical when Avery laughed out loud.

“Look down,” she said.

There they were. Big, yellow paw prints leading all the way through the garage and right out a secret back door that I would have never found on my own!

As I followed my daughter, I noticed she had a sudden spring in her step. I mean, how can you not feel happy following a path of paw prints? That’s when I realized I would be adding another phrase to my arsenal of calming mantras:

Look Down, lost soul…

God’s prepared a path.

Look Down, worried one…

You don’t have to have it all figured out; just take it one step at a time.

Look Down, anxious heart…

You are invited to come as you are.

Look Down, weary one…

You don’t walk alone.

Once Avery and I got settled in the exam room and began the excruciatingly long wait, a painful question arose from my young companion that was becoming quite frequent: “Why me?”

From my mouth, came a response I had not yet said to her:

“Maybe you don’t go through this for YOU, but for someone else… like a future friend or classmate. Maybe the tools and wisdom God’s providing you as you go will help someone just starting this difficult journey one day.”

Look Down, questioning heart…

That shaky ground you stand upon

May someday be someone’s lighted path

Because you and God are teaming up to prepare the way.

Look Up, precious child… breathe…laugh…live.

And if you can’t see anything but concrete walls, perhaps the joyful squirrel is hibernating.

In that case, look down.

See the proof in the extra set of prints.

God is with you; you don’t walk alone.

Written for Devotionals Daily by Rachel Macy Stafford, author of Live Love Now.

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Your Turn

Are you braving new paths today with sweaty hands and an anxious heart? Are you trying to move forward with no answers but a whole lot of faith and trust? Are you being called to companion someone you love through a journey of uncertainty and struggle? If so, use this prayer that I wrote after God led Avery and me by paw prints, assuring us that we are being held in loving hands even when the path is unclear.

THE COMPANION’S PRAYER by Rachel Macy Stafford

If the news is bad,

I’ll hurt with you.

If the news is good,

I’ll rejoice with you.

If the news is neither bad nor good,

I’ll wait with you ‘til things start looking up.

If the news is bad,

Lay your pain on me.

If the news is good,

We’ll celebrate.

If the news is unknown,

We’ll lean towards hope.

You and I know the news could go either way.

But remember, there is one constant:

And that is Me beside you.

I can’t take this burden from your shoulders, but I sustain you for the journey.

I can’t walk this road for you, but I can make sure you never go it alone.

I can’t see what’s in front of us, but I can assure you there is light ahead.

My hand in yours.