Friday, May 21, 2010

Run the race.

A couple of days ago I went to the Elementary school where my two middle kiddos attend. They were having field day. I watched my kids run down the field, hop in a sack down the field and be tied to a classmate and run down the field. I enjoyed watching them.

There was also another kid that I watched and he has been on my mind over these last few days. He was a physically challenged boy. I watched him line up on the starting line just like my kids did in races prior to his. The starting gun went off and his classmates took off down the field. He competed in the same events. He ran and hopped just like the other kids. The only difference was that his body wouldn't respond in the same way the other kids bodies would. He tried just as hard but within seconds he was in last place. Long after the other kids had crossed the finish line he was still on the field fighting his own limitations. I heard a couple of snickers and laughs from the benches and I prayed they were not directed at the young man. There was a part of me that wondered; why would they do this to the poor boy? Why make him compete in events where he had no chance of winning? No chance to be first.

It seemed like an eternity had passed and he was still slowly making his way down the field. This is when it happened. There were some adults in the bleachers and they started cheering him on. And then from across the field where the students sat they began chanting his name. Soon after there were few people on that field, young and old, who weren't cheering him and chanting his name. No other kid that day got more support from the crowd than he did. He finished every single race.

That's when I understood. It wasn't about winning or being the best. It was about getting out there and trying. It was about the sun warming him and the wind in his face. It was about the smell of fresh cut grass. It was about people who supported him. And it was about him having a chance.

I was inspired by this young man and I hope he runs hundreds more races.

I think that we all have limitations and challenges. I also know that most of us never even go up to the starting line. Still more may start the race but stop as we see others so far ahead or when the snickers and laughter start. It's easy to listen to the voice inside (and often many external voices) tell us we shouldn't even be on the field. Why go through the agony of limping down field when it's obvious one is not even in the same league?

For the same reason that young man did. For the experience!

As for me, I refuse to ever wonder; "what if?" I will accept the laughter, the ridicule and the fact that I am often out of my league in the things I do. I am going to continue to pursue my dreams because, for me, not running or quitting before the finish is worse than last place.

No, I will never sacrifice my love for God, family and friends in order to run the race. But I am fortunate that God has given me the dream, the desire and people who cheer me on even when I'm not just last but shouldn't be on the field in the first place.

And who knows, maybe one day I'll hear the chants, feel the sun warming me and the wind in my face as I run the race.

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