Sunday, May 04, 2014

Her Race & Our Banner

Today was triathlon day for my K--and although she has participated in six other races over the last four years, this was a big one because her age demanded that her distances double. This meant my tiny 48 lb and 48 inch nugget had to swim 100 meters, bike 4.6 miles and then run 1 mile as fast as she could.

She has been a little nervous anticipating the event. As we've talked about the challenge, we decided it would be meaningful to run in honor of a couple of other elementary aged girls she knows who are also doing hard things--one battling liver cancer and another who has faced many challenges as a result of a chromosonal disorder.

Armed with a purpose and her trademark grin, my ex-preemie hugged me quickly and lined up for her race.  
And this is where a triathlete's parent will tell you OUR workout begins--because for 35 minutes as she gave it her all on the course-- we were on the sidelines waiting for her to pass so we could cheer her on. The course stretches over 6 miles. We simply can't be everywhere, so we choose our spots, squint our eyes and crane our necks for glimpses and then go crazy when we think she is within earshot.

But today, I was reminded of the necessity and absolute TREASURE of community--because there were countless other people there to fill in the gaps.

As she entered the pool area, parents had to stay outside. But she wasn't alone! She was greeted by two high school girls she adores from camp who were working as volunteers.
As she exited the pool and set out on her 4.6 mile bike trek she was surprised by our long time sitter and dear family friends--with a sign quoting her favorite triathlon verse.
And then, as she was completely exhausted coming into the final 1/4 mile of her run a gaggle of 8th grade girls left their posts cheering on the sidelines and ran by her side shouting encouragement.
I was blown away by gratitude for such big hearts in those teenaged girls--what precious role models.
Once she crossed the finish line there were grandparents, brothers, other triathletes and parents with high fives and congratulations on a race well run. And it was a picture of the way community ought to look--affirming each other for the courage it takes just to race, celebrating each other and offering encouragement freely.
As she stepped up onto the podium, I was struck by the sponsor banner brimming with names. It was a picture of how I felt about my girl's many backers. From the ones I've mentioned to the others I have not: the teacher who brought this great event to our community and her hardworking support team, the swim coach/Mom who spent a little time boosting K's confidence in the pool, the awesome YL leader/sitter/friend who took K out for one last run yesterday morning when she could have been sleeping in.

And, ya'll, this was just one race. It is but a snapshot of all the friendships/relationships that are leaving holy fingerprints all over my child's life and mine.

What a reminder of how essential it is that we are intentional about the community that we build--because this is about far more than a Sunday afternoon triathlon--it is about the 'great cloud of witnessess' surrounding us on this journey of life. Just as in the race, we can't be everywhere for those that we love, but our 'community' can be spread all over the course of life.

It led me tonight to ponder not only how and where we are the blessed recipients, but where are we giving back. For whom am I cheering? Who might I encourage? Who in my life needs me to remind them of the Truth they hold dear? And who simply needs me to run alongside them when they are ready to quit?

There are many on my list. I pray I may be found faithful to the opportunities I am given.

But tonight, I am simply grateful--for the way God designed us for interdependence--and the blessing of seeing it lived out so beautifully today.


Rosemary Clark said...

I love this post!! Thanks for sharing! I also love her shirt. : )

dee said...

This is beautiful and so true! I can just imagine how the 8th grade girls running with K must have encouraged her! I need to examine more often my opportunities to "run beside" someone I know and love.

Anonymous said...

Wow what a race! It gave me goose bumps reading all about it! And I don't even know any of you but I find myself very proud of your little one! Awesome!

KJG said...

As an elementary school teacher and 9th grade Sunday school teacher I cried while reading this. I was so encouraged and reminded that all the extras (ball games, recitals, etc) Where I go and cheer on my students and youth group kiddos matter and make a difference! Also encouraged to cheer on my everyday people in their everyday stuff. Thank you for writing...My heart needed these words so much!

Denise Ross said...

Convicted me, challenged me and made me teary. All words I needed to hear. Thanks for your words of encouragement and the focus to run the race, not alone but with each other, lifting

Denise Ross said...

Each other up and running beside. Love it :) well done to K and everyone in team K.

Denise Ross said...

Each other up and running beside. Love it :) well done to K and everyone in team K.