I’m wearing one of my favorite shirts today. It is nothing fancy, just a t-shirt from the Owensboro BBQ Festival. I have one from each year we have gone, but this one is still my favorite. Every year at the BBQ Fest they have a 5K (3.1 mile) race. Jeff runs in it every year…he is a runner and likes that sort of thing. Once or twice I have run the race, too, but I am not a runner and about half-way through it I’m wondering what made me actually pay for this much pain. The last couple of years our oldest, Mykaela, has run the race. She is on the cross-country team and likes the race atmosphere. Last year, though, Kianna wanted to run the race. They were doing a promotion to get more families involved and set the entry fee at $15 per person or $30 per family. Since Jeff & Mykaela had already decided to run it was like Kianna and I were getting to run for free! Quite a bargain! At least on paper…
Race day arrived bright and early. We were all psyched up and ready in our running shoes and matching shirts (well, the girls and I matched at least…Jeff isn’t into dressing like his daughters…) The race began and we all took off like we’d been shot out of a cannon! What fun! This is great! I love that we are being healthy and active as a family! The sun is shining, the birds are singing…it’s a great day to be alive! Two blocks later our thoughts were very different… They call this fun?? Whose idea was this anyway? How far do we have to go?? I think I’m going to die!!!
Jeff was long gone ahead of us with the serious runners, and Mykaela was not going to be outdone by her little sister. I told them to go ahead without us while Kianna and I moved over to let the other runners pass us. (Do you know how embarrassing it is to be passed by a pregnant woman pushing a stroller?) Once we caught our breath, walking wasn’t so bad. We walked for a couple more blocks before Kianna started
whining expressing her feelings about the race. I tried to encourage her by telling her how proud I was of her for doing this race and how proud her daddy/sister/grandparents/teachers/friends would be, too, when she finished. She replied that she knows that all those people would love her even if she didn’t finish the race. Guess my teaching about unconditional love actually sunk in… Then I tried to challenge her by talking about how strong I know she is and how only little kids need to be carried. She replied that she will always be my baby…and would I carry her….pleeeease??? (She sure knows how to turn on the charm, but my back over-ruled my heart…3 miles with an 8-year-old hanging off my shoulders would not do either one of us any good.) I tried to distract her from her misery by pointing out all the beautiful flowers in the yards we were passing, the cute dogs barking at us, and the interesting stuff at the yard sale…hmmm….they did have interesting stuff…wonder if they have any good deals? Maybe we should stop…it’s not like we’re in the running for a trophy…no. focus. keep walking…maybe they will still be open when you finish the race…not likely at the pace we are going, but you never know… I think my distraction technique only worked for me… Finally we reached the water station. Kianna has never been so happy to see a paper cup filled with luke-warm tap water in her whole life! Most people were running by, chugging some water & tossing their cups on the ground as they continued the race. Not us. We stopped and stood next to the table sipping our water & enjoying the shade (we did, however, throw our cups on the ground in order to get the full racing experience…) Finally, Kianna was ready to move on and finish the race. “How much farther til the end?” she asked. When I told her that the water station was half-wayI thought she was going to cry. She had given everything she had to get to that point. She was sure there was no way that she could finish the race. I took her hand and we kept going. She gazed enviously at every child who passed us in a stroller.
With about half a mile left, we saw Jeff coming towards us in the distance. He had already finished the race and was coming back to encourage her. He came along side of us and asked her how she was doing. “Great!” she said. “I love running this race!” He asked her if she thought she could jog a little and she answered “Sure!” and started jogging. As we approached the finish line her daddy told her that real runners sprint to the finish…she took off running leaving me in her dust! As I finished the race she was so proud that she had finished and kept telling everyone that she had beaten me…the little stinker! I let her bask in all her glory, though, and did not remind her about all the tears and
whining tiredness she had gone through during the race.
All the racers got a t-shirt for participating and she wore hers with pride. The next day she asked to borrow my t-shirt. When she returned it she had written on it with fabric markers: “We Did It Together! Kianna & Mommy! We Did It Together!” What a sweet reminder. We did it together! My encouragement and support did matter to her! Even though it was hard I’m glad we did it…and I’m glad we did it TOGETHER!
The next time you feel like quitting remember that you are not alone. You and God can do it together!
The next time you see someone about to give up. Encourage them. Support them. Make them laugh. Come along-side them. Run that race with them. And when you watch them cross that finish line on their own you will know that you made a difference in their life because you did it together!