Every Single Step

There is no better view of London than from the Golden Gallery of St. Paul’s Cathedral. When walking around the gallery at the top of the cathedral’s dome, one can get an unobstructed 360-degree view of London from the highest point in the city. On a clear bright day, it is simply the most stunning sight in a city that has seen so much.

Last week, my family and I had the opportunity to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral and view the city from the Golden Gallery. We probably would have missed it, if a visitor’s guide hadn’t encouraged us to go. The interior of the cathedral is breathtaking and overwhelming enough. We would have gone home satisfied with those sights alone! Instead, we followed the guide’s advice and began to make our way up the stairs toward the galleries.

After climbing more than 200 stairs, we came to a landing and prepared ourselves for the breathtaking views of the city. Instead, we were greeted with a sign that said, “139 Steps to the Stone Gallery.” We laughed a bit nervously and rounded the corner to begin our trek up the next set of stairs.

When we reached the Stone Gallery, we were met with another sign that informed us of the remaining 152 stairs that would be required to reach the Golden Gallery.

“Are you kidding me?” I groaned. We were on the fifth day of our trip, and we had already racked up thousands of miles on an airplane and tens of thousands of steps on my husband’s Fitbit. Not to mention we had already climbed 376 stairs! My body was tired, and my mind couldn't quite convince my body that the views from the Golden Gallery would be worth the extra climb.

We took a small break, walked around the circumference of the Stone Gallery, and enjoyed those views of the city. Then, it was time to climb again. My family tried to assure me that it would be fine if I didn’t accompany them to the next level, and that was partially true. We made tons of new memories together during our trip. Not having this particular memory together wouldn’t have been the end of the world. But I really wanted to see the Golden Gallery. I really wanted to reach that point as a family. I really wanted us to be together at the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

So I straightened the backpack full of souvenirs on my shoulders, and up we went.

After a short break around Step #478, we emerged onto the Golden Gallery. As soon as we stepped out on the terrace, the views took our breath away. It was something we will never forget.

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Eventually, we made our way back down the 528 stairs and looked at each other with a distinct sense of accomplishment.

We had done it. Together.

And it hit me: this is the foster care life.

We say yes with a particular set of expectations, then we get hit with situations that we never expected at all. We climb hundreds of stairs in dark, stone stairwells holding onto the hope that the sight at the top will have been worth the extra effort.

Sometimes, it is. We emerge from the stairwell onto a golden gallery with spectacular views. We see a little boy reach a developmental milestone that no one ever dreamed would be possible. We’re there when a little girl finds healing and hope. We rejoice when a family works hard toward reunification and has a chance to be together again. Yes, sometimes the hard work results in a beautiful reward.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. We emerge from the stairwell and get a quick breath of fresh air before seeing the sign that instructs us to climb another hundred stairs. We see a little girl continue to struggle with something that shouldn’t be difficult. We’re there when a young man gives up on himself and his future. We grieve when a family is permanently separated without the hope of ever begin together again. Sometimes, the hard work seems to result in nothing but pain and difficulty.

Friends, may I encourage you in these times? Remember that your stairwell is inside an incredible cathedral.

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Remember that your stairwell is one small part of a much bigger monument built to testify to the world about our magnificent God. You cannot see it from the inside. You can only see stone walls and endless steps ahead. But you are part of something amazing, and you are headed somewhere amazing.

You are part of the family of God, and you are headed closer and closer to His heart.

I promise you - the view at the end of this journey will be worth every single step.