That run was painful, y'all.
I was fired up and ready to go. Stretched myself out, chatted up my fellow runners, and got my little bib...which I had to call my sister in law to get her to tell me where to pin it. Chest or belly? Do I pin it down or let it fly? Is it going to bob up and down on my flabby tummy if I don't pin it down? Oh, the pressure. I'm a dork.
The race began and we all started off. There were only about 40 people in this race, 15 of whom were children under the age of 11. It was a little race, a neighborhood race, no big deal. About ten or twenty seconds into it, though, I realized that I was going to be in the back. That's ok, I thought, because these kids will wear out and some of these adults told me they aren't even runners so I'm sure it'll all pan out and I'll move on up in the pack.
Aaaaaaand no. That didn't happen. It never happened. In fact, I was in the back. Dead last. For the whole race.
I take that back. There was one girl who was right in front of me who would stop and walk every once in a while and I would pass her. But when she saw me pass her it was like she said to herself, "Aw heeeeull no, I am not going to let that girl beat me." So she would speed up and eventually she got out of my reach.
It is at this time I'd like to remind you of a couple things:
1. I already told you guys I'm a slow runner. This is not news to you and is definitely not news to me. The reason I like running is because I run slowly. My heart rate gets up enough, but I like to keep running and see how far I can go rather than running for speed and then having to walk because I poop myself. That's just not my jam.
2. The most important thing to remember is why I was running...I was running this race in honor of my friends and their devastating loss of their son despite his sister's gracious gift of her own bone marrow.
Back to the race:
Keep in mind that this happened in my own neighborhood, so there were some friends out in their yards cheering us on. One good friend piled my kids on her golf cart and they sat at different points in the hood so they could cheer me on. I thought this would be so encouraging. To my utter and complete disappointment in myself, this just made me feel embarrassed. My friends and my family were watching me lose. My girls were going to see their mom in THE back. I didn't lose my head completely, though, because I am not a total lunatic and I was able to realize that I had to finish. It didn't matter how I did it. I just had to finish, for myself, for my girls, and for the Fricks. Finishing is what mattered.
But the sad thing is that other things mattered too. I am not sure I can explain to you, nor do you really want to read about, the negative brain space I was in. I tried my darndest to speak truth to myself. You know, runner speak like "slow and steady wins the race," which they actually do not...they lose the race... and they drag a cop car along with it.
So I tried speaking Truth to myself. Scripture, quotes, psalms, hymns...anything that I knew that I knew that I knew to be true. I tried focusing on Kim and the Frick family and their terrible loss and difficult struggle. I tried praying for Devin's sister who so graciously gave of herself in order to prolong her brother's life. But the debilitating thought patterns had set in and it was ugly.
I'm not sure if you're ready for this, dear reader, but I started to cry.
Not cry because it was hard and I couldn't breathe, which it was and I couldn't. I started crying because I was so disappointed in myself for being in the back. And then I cried harder for caring that I was in the back. I was a literal hot mess.
Around mile 2 is when this little meltdown occurred. It was getting dark but I kept my sunglasses on, (so I can so I can) so that Officer Laptop couldn't see me crying. Then out of nowhere I heard a little voice call my name.
It was my sweet Zoe in all her glory with her curls bouncing in the wind and her smile as big as day. She left the comfort of my friend's tricked out golf cart to come and run beside me. This made me cry more, but also made me so happy. She was like a "visible expression of the invisible God" coming to run with me. This didn't make me run faster. As a matter of fact I still battled my thoughts the entire rest of the race, but I KNEW that I had been heard. I knew that my God was WITH me, that He was pleased with me, and that He and Officer Laptop were going to see me through this thing.
Zoe ran on ahead of me, turned around to encourage me at times, and alerted me when she could see the finish line. I could hear the band playing on the soccer field and see folks drinking their celebratory beers as I reached the end of the race. My sweet family was there to hug me and tell me they were proud of me. As Ian came up to me I wanted to lose it because I had been holding it in, but I didn't because I SOOOO wanted my girls to see that I had finished and that's what really mattered. Then Tori, in all her tiny glory, ran up to me, hugged my knees and said these sweet words to me:
"Mom!! You WON!!"
Out of the mouths of babes.
Don't think for a second that I think I won that race. I was dead last and I know it. But I love that the unconditional love my kids and family showed me is such a tangible picture of the "withness" of Jesus. And I love that the world's view (read: my view) of winning is so totally opposite of what winning looks like in God's economy.
Did the Frick family lose because Devin didn't live? Yes, on one hand. They lost their son/husband/friend/brother/boyfriend in an awfully painful struggle. They are suffering overwhelming loss. But they did not lose the race. Instead they scratched and clawed and held on with all their might to the promises of God. The fact that the Lord was WITH them, though they may or may not have felt His presence, is the real truth. This truth is hard. This truth hurts. This truth is very difficult to believe and to focus on because it doesn't make pain go away. But it is still Truth.
So I don't really have a moral of the story, and I think that's probably good. I would hate to cheapen my experience, and more importantly the painful experience of my friends, by tying up this post with a nice pretty bow. Gross...that would just be annoying, and bad theology. I just felt like I needed to put this out there because it was a super raw, super real experience for me. And because so many of you were rooting for me. All I can say is that it's really important to run alongside each other, to cheer each other on, and to speak Truth to each other every chance we get.