Monday, May 04, 2009

Spring it On

Today was Zaya's first track meet, and I have to confess that quite a few of my childhood bogeymen came slithering out on this cloudy, thundery spring morning. Don't misunderstand, Mim and Zaya both did their best, which is what I told them was important. They did not get upset when they didn't win...again and again. They have now forgotten all about it and are running around the house playing, but the cold, dark spring day, and the memories, have opened up old wounds, and I have to confess I ache a little bit today.

I'm not sure if it's so much for my own past as for the future I see in front of my little ones. Every child has their strengths and their weaknesses, and every child must learn to cope with each of course, but to be brutally honest, physical weakness is held in much greater scorn here in Western Oklahoma than mental or spiritual weakness. If a child cannot shoot a basketball, run a mile, throw a football...they get that look. The same look that I remember as a child. Pity, thinly veiled disgust, or worse, no look at all. The child has simply blipped off of the radar screen. They did not qualify as anything, therefore they do not exist.

I'm sure it isn't as bad as I imagine it to be. I'm sure that all of these well-meaning people have no idea that it even happens, or that they encourage it in their own children, but ask the other kids who came in last today, and they'll tell you about it. Or ask their parents.

While it's tempting for me to sit back and indulge in self-pity, God nudged me today and taught me a little something: It is true that here on earth cheering crowds will always be reserved for the athletes. That will not change because of the nature of our world and who we are as a culture. My children will find their gifts as they grow, but they will not be likely to achieve greatness in a roaring stadium or a field of fans and supporters. They will probably find that the room is silent when they do their best work, when they excel.

But that's alright; it really is. Because there will not be cheering crowds when they are asked to do all of the most important things in this world. Integrity, honesty, compassion, humility...none of these things attract an audience; not the kind of audience that is raucous, with shrieking whistles and boisterous yells. As my children run the race that is set before them, they will be running only for the Author and the Finisher of their faith, and the Great Cloud of Witnesses in whose footsteps they are racing.

And if it takes years and years of experiencing the scorn of this world in order to achieve success in the race of their lives, then so be it. If I can teach that to my children, it won't matter how many little ribbons they win, or how many cheering crowds they ignite, or how many laurels this world sets on their heads. I will have true pride and joy, because they will be running for their Heavenly Father.

So even though this morning's clouds finally did begin to bulge and fall, and even though I had to watch my sweet little boy with tears trickling down his cheeks as all the other children received their ribbons, today was a beautiful spring day, because I know that at least two little hearts were being purified, and underneath the dross of this life, they are pure gold.

Hebrews 12:1-3

1.Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

2.Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3.For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

This post is entered in Scribbit's Write-Away contest.


Scribbit said...

That balance between encouraging my kids and then allowing them to fail or experience trouble is always a tricky one for me. My instant response is always to want to smooth out the way for them. But that's not really helpful.

Johanna said...

I know exactly how you feel. I have some similar old wounds myself.
This is an awesome post. You have a wonderful talent for writing. :)

aftergrace said...

I too was never one to win lots of ribbons and hoorahs. Great post.

Qtpies7 said...

What a great post!
I wasn't a physical prodigy, either, but I guess I don't really have any really bad memories over it. But I do feel bad for my children when they try so hard and just don't measure up. Especially since I do have a very good athlete, too. But he never "measures up" academically, so he suffers there. Everyone has a week spot, and that is a great place for God to fit in!

Lilibeth said...

What frustrates me is this: We don't force every student to participate in public academic competitions; we don't rank every student as to their artistic ability; why must we do it in sports? I've taught school too many years not to recognize the swagger of the athlete and the apologetic "excuse me for knowing the answer" look of the non-atheletic, "brilliant yet trying to be humble enough to be accepted" student.

Ah well, interestingly enough, I blogged about this too, before I read yours. You handled it better than I did.

Chandelle said...

I am glad you've entered this entry in the Write-Away contest; it is beautifully written and I felt it in my heart and shared my tears and my joy.

tjhirst said...

I like your writing because it doesn't draw attention to itself. This is an interesting take on the topic of Spring. One of the things that I could relate so well to was this, "Physical weakness is held in much greater scorn here in Western Oklahoma than mental or spiritual weakness." We are short, nonathletic people at our house and this description helps identify what we, too, feel. Thanks for entering.