Wednesday night in our AWESOME mini-van, my man compassionately listened to me attempting to get a grip on reality. Hubby said, “In life’s race there are a lot of hurdles. You just have to jump them.” I replied, “Fine, but you can’t put all the hurdles right next to each other. You have to take a few steps in between or you totally bust your butt. Especially me. The hospital says I’m a fall risk, you know.”
In all the motivational speeches, pep talks, trite encouragement, and sage wisdom I have been told in the past 3 years particularly, it seems a favorite saying is, “It’s a marathon.” With that metaphor comes wisdom like, “hydrate”, “training is important”, “commit and find accountability”, and “wear the right shoes”. Yes, that advice is applicable to motherhood, military life, and being the mother of a specially-made child who needs extra help. Then in my quiet moments I turn to get some restful moments in God’s Word and find people are still running.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1-3
While this can be encouraging, the fact remains that I am not a runner and I’m in a race where most of the training is on-the-job. In the spirit of marathon running, I thought I would cover a few of my recent chuckles in like theme. The truth is, this is one of my hardest seasons. Every day has difficulties and the end is nowhere in sight…unless you count bedtimes. So with a smile, let us review the conventional-and true- marathon wisdom for people struggling with life.
First, there is the “stop and smell the roses” and “slow down” advice. I once cheered on an inspiring friend in her first half marathon. The bulk of runners came through and totally ignored the cones- soon I was in the middle of the race and being pushed by people who didn’t want to be bothered with bottle-necking. This also happened as I arrived in the Seoul International Airport. I stopped to spot my Beloved and got knocked over by a 70 year old Korean woman. True story. She was throwin’ the ‘bows and I went down hard. My husband thought this was funny. It wasn’t. Stopping is important, but know there is a high likelihood of being overtaken and trampled. Plan accordingly.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? Cool- if you come out stronger. Some people don’t. Let’s not take it for granted that everyone will emerge from their circumstances rewarded, happier, and with an ‘awesome testimony’. Finish lines and small destinations to reach are encouraging. Sometimes the ‘finish line’ really seems like the real finish line. Of course, outrunning death is the source of all kinds of lyrical inspiration. Some people are literally fighting for their lives. Let’s remember that.
I’m not a doctor, and neither is this guy. There are the critics who let you know you are doing a crappy job and think they are funny doing it. The thing is, sometimes there are more urgent things to handle during the course of life. Some things need to be handled privately. Then again, some people need poop-themed signs. It happens.
We can clench the teeth, pull up by boot straps, get over it, etc. but the truth remains that some of us are carrying very real pain. In our post modern world of fast-forward, it is nice to think the emotional suffering or intense training happens in a short montage with upbeat music. Nope. Those who run with a rock in their shoe feel pain every single step of the way. It’s not helpful to ignore or push past the struggle of others.
Saving the day is hard work. We can all find something super in the every day grind. Let’s get to it. (Where did he park the Batmobile?)
Oh, come on. Now he will have to run one just because of the nay-sayers. Comparison is not cool. Neither is trying to one-up others, particularly Chuck Norris.
Life is about learning to dance in the rain, is it? Okay. Sometimes it is important to bring a dad-gum umbrella. Watching expectations is important. To some the point is finishing a race, supporting a cause, getting into shape, etc. When others expect a song and dance, they get disappointed. If you want happily ever after, go to Disney. Some people are giving all they can just to stay in the race.
You may be the lead dog but we have to pull together, Judgmental Husky.In a frustrating moment this week, I showed vulnerability to admit my exhaustion and frustration to someone I only know from a conversation in the hospital. The girl who listened sympathetically couldn’t help but interject a “just wait until they are in school. It is SO much worse!” Thanks. I can barely keep upright now- how will I handle everything else? See the Grim Reaper sign. The ‘be happy because someone has it worse’ encouragement isn’t helpful. It’s not a competition. A weekend without your spouse might be crippling for you, while spending months with mine in a war zone is my norm. Getting a healthy dinner on the table every day can be a struggle for me, while you might whip up a gourmet meal and love every moment of it. It’s not the same race.
Then there is the joy of collective victory…(and the joy of being an Aggie. Whoop.) Life isn’t a competition. It just can’t be. Someone else is always going to win. Be happy for them. Especially when you are on the same team.
Then there are the friends who get involved and really keep things in perspective. A few amazing women have really pulled my weight along with theirs this week. When challenges come, the friends who remind you why we are doing the hard things in the first place. Then after a glorious moment of regrouping, girding the loins and picking up the pace again, it is time to keep running. There are no time outs in the marathon…unless you have a toddler. Then there are lots of time outs- but you know what I mean.
Run the race, warriors. It is a lot longer than 26.2 miles. We have different hurdles, different paces, and see different signs along the way. If you know someone is running a hard race today, or simply getting lapped by life, be an encouraging person along the way. Finishing strong is much better when others are around to help celebrate the victories. Stretch and get your water. You CAN do this.