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  • Laura MacNeil Smith

To the Ones Who Went Before Us

Updated: Feb 17, 2021

By our house there are hundreds of tiny foot trails paths of red dirt, leading up and down the hills, past tiny pastel painted houses with laundry hanging in the courtyard. One of the perks of living in the countryside is the ability to spend time going for walks outside, a luxury we didn’t have while we used to live in the city. The unmarked trails intertwine with each other, and can go on for miles, but eventually connect back to the main road. The other day, I got blissfully lost on a trail that led straight up the mountain which ended up leading to someone’s house, so I promptly turned myself around to go back. Walking down the steep incline, I gingerly stepped over tree roots and held on to the rock ledge, as the trail was slick from rain the night before.

About halfway down I was passed by beautiful older woman, wearing slip on sandals. She knew the path like the back of her hand from walking up and down many times before. Her feet effortlessly found the footholds as it was etched in her memory and she made it to the bottom in record time. Watching her, my journey became a whole lot easier as I followed her footprints in the mud.

It made me think of all the women who have come before us in our lives...

The ones who have walked these paths and know these roads.

The ones who have paved the way for us to become who we are.

The ones who walk the path with us, who aren’t afraid to pick us up and brush us off when we stumble or lose our way.


I am blessed to have many strong and brave women in my life, mothers or not, who encourage me to be the same.

I think of my friends, many of whom are adoptive moms. Some live here in Haiti or have lived here for months at a time, navigating things on their own and fighting for the rights of their children in foreign government offices. Their paths haven't been easy, but they've persevered through much when others probably would have given up. They are fiercely protective and with God’s help they’ve moved mountains. Driven by love, they are unstoppable.

When I am with them, I feel brave.

My sisters, who genuinely pursue life their own way and who have walked with me through many talks and phone calls, as I’ve searched for my purpose and nervously spoken dreams I thought may be too big. They bring lightness when I need laughter and a listening ear when I don’t know what to do. They’ve walked through hard seasons and have shown me how to do so with grace and courage. God gave me such a priceless gift to be able to go through life with them by my side, whether we live far apart or not.

When I am with them, I feel loved.

My mom, who poured an incredible amount of time and energy into raising my sisters and I. God has given her this amazing gift with the way she connects and encourages others. It’s what often made us the last ones out of church as she was talking in the parking lot. It's what makes complete strangers sitting next to her on the plane pour out their life story. I have never seen someone get so much joy out of encouraging others. To this day I see random posts on Facebook with her familiar loopy handwriting, anonymously leaving kind gifts on people’s doorsteps just to make them smile. She embodies what it means to faithfully and joyfully follow Christ with a selfless heart. I can’t tell you how many times my mom has wiped tears from my eyes and reminded me who I really am when life has felt too much to bear.

When I am with her, I feel known.


As they have invested and spoken life into me, I hope that I may be able to do the same.

As I’ve been learning how to navigate the roads in my life—roads that look like life in a foreign country or marriage or motherhood—I am so thankful for the love of those who have walked these trails before me.

May we humbly ask for their help when we need it, and may we selflessly offer a hand & our wisdom to those who come after us.

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