Why Finishing Is More Important Than Winning

She walked toward the car and I could tell by the wide grin on her face, she made the cut for the first Junior High track meet. Every week, the coaches plugged in the best times for each event, but with bad weather, the kids didn’t have much time to practice for their first meet.

“What event?” I asked, smiling at the way my daughter lives fearlessly.

“100 Meter Hurdles and the 300 Meter ones,” she said confidently.

I leave the pasted smile up a moment longer than I planned. Hurdles? My momma heart cringed.

“Great! Have you, um,  done hurdles before?” I asked, my hesitancy proof of my doubt.

“Yes, today.”

Yay. (note sarcasm) “I hope I don’t fall and end up on youtube,” she laughed.

My husband, a high school hurdler tried to give her a few last minute tips. We bundled up for the cold and long meet, waiting our daughter’s debut track appearance. I was a nervous wreck.

IMG_6478

 

 

With her hot pink spikes and hair pulled back, lean body stretching, I hardly recognized the young lady waving at me from her lane. She was such a new runner, she opted not to use the starting blocks and flinched when the gun started the race.

We cheered wildly as she ran her heart out.

With each hurdle in her path, I held my breath. She was running a fierce race, but at some point her back foot tipped the obstacle and she tumbled and fell hard — i n  –s l o w — m o t i o n — right in front of us. The crowd gasped and my heart broke, not because she fell, but because I couldn’t help her up, seeing her physical pain, feeling the emotional.

But in less than a second and without thought to her bruised and bleeding body, she was up and running, hurdling over the remaining obstacles in her path.

She finished the race.

I pushed thru the crowd, searching pony tails, looking for my girl. I couldn’t find her.

After a visit to the medic, she reappeared, limping, embarrassed smile and shrug, in spite of this:
photo
“You finished,” I said proudly.

We asked her if she was okay. She nodded, but I could tell she wasn’t. I pulled her over to a dark corner, “Mom, I don’t think I can do the next race. I’m really scared.”

This is where I wanted to just pack her up and tell her she can quit.

Instead, I held onto her and I gave her the best pep talk of my life. And I prayed for her right there under the bleachers and I left the decision up to her.

Because now it was more than an event at a junior high track meet. It was real life and real choices and real pain and a real mom who couldn’t fix the broken place.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t wait around to see what she decided. My mom had just gotten out of surgery and I had an hour drive to the hospital. I hugged her tight and left.

I can’t describe how hard it was to walk away. It’s hard seeing your children hurt, but it’s not the first time on this parenting road or the last. I’m not sure it gets easier.

I pulled the car over halfway to the hospital so I could text my daughter and tell her I loved her and no matter what, she’d already won.

But she knew that:

text

The next morning, while we bandaged her banged up leg, I told her how proud I was.

“Mom, wouldn’t you be more proud if I’d won?” she asked.

It’s a good question. But winning isn’t always winning. “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Heb. 12:2

“You did win, honey. You finished.”

Life is full of obstacles at every turn. There are financial stresses, family issues, hard parenting days, lonely moves, just real life hurdles that trip us up and leave us a bloody mess.

In those moments we don’t learn the lesson on the ground, we discover it when we get back up.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, I hope you finish strong today.

Because that’s what winning is really about.

 

And it’s the lesson that keeps on giving. An update-She finished 5th overall at her second track meet in the 300m Hurdle race:

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Comments

  1. 3

    Beth says

    Thanks for the cry on this Monday AM…. parenting is so difficult at times. Thank you – this really touched my heart.

  2. 5

    says

    Crying……..so don’t want my gilrs to grow up. It’s gonna hurt like crazy when the time comes when I have to watch thier life unfold from the sidlines and just hope and pray they make right choices, the way I taught them. It’s going to be tough not to be able to be there pick them up and kiss thier hurts and then, what if they are hurting inside and keep it all in and I don’t even know? Thanks for the great post today. -Steph-

  3. 6

    says

    That is so awesome. And these are the kinds of things that will teach her and prepare her SO MUCH for adulthood…the kinds of things sometimes I wish I’d learned earlier! Way to go, Mama.

  4. 7

    Kit jordan says

    Thank you for this post today. It hit very close to home!! It is true the moment we become mothers our hearts forever walk outside our bodies!!

  5. 8

    Heather S. says

    We were totally talking about running the race well yesterday in Sunday school. This was such an awesome illustration of that. You SHOULD be proud of your daughter. What a great lesson to learn at such a young age!

  6. 9

    Crystal says

    Yay for her! Track is a lifelong sport that truly is wonderful on so many levels. Good for starting….and finishing! :-)

  7. 10

    Anu says

    Know what I love the most about today’s post? Everyone ‘knows’ the scripture verses …. the wisdom to use it at the ‘right’ time, is what was so encouraging for me. Thank you.
    We are all Moms, and our hearts “do” walk outside our bodies, and you’re right, I don;t think it will ever get easier or better, just different challenges for different situations at different ages :)
    But our words, and responses would be the one our kiddos are looking at, and what they might remember the most.

  8. 11

    says

    Thanks for posting this! My gilr competed this weekend in a TKD tournament with a fever and messed up something that was worked on SO hard. My mama heart broke too but oh the lessons learned in showing up and finishing no matter the obstacle. Blessings to you and your fam!

  9. 12

    says

    Way to go for finishing the race! My knee looks pretty much like hers right now after I took a silly tumble on the sidewalk. At least your girl was hurdling something more than cobblestones ;) Congrats on raising a daughter full of perseverance!

  10. 13

    says

    It is so, so easy to quit when things get tough. I was there this morning, I’m sorry to say. I’m must a tiny bit emotional, and your post was perfect.

    It seems like my family is always in a tough spot (for the last 10 years) and I am just tired of it. I woke up this morning to a messy house, and just felt like giving up and doing nothing. My husband has been working 60+ hours a week, he’s sick, he’ll be starting a new job in a week…needless to say, I am just feeling “done” with being home alone with 4 kids.

    Thanks for the encouragement!!

    And, glad your daughter finished the race, must have felt amazing to her!

  11. 15

    berjiboo says

    I ran a hurdles race in high school- once. I had been practicing and clearing the hurdles and then two days before the meet I trip and fell all tangled up with the hurdles and the blackest bruise I have ever had on the back of my thigh. I ran in the meet but I had freaked myself out so I had to just step over the first hurdle instead of jump. Subsequent ones I managed to get my rhythm back and jumped but I clearly didn’t place in the race.

    Good for her for getting back on the track!

  12. 20

    Jill Gendall says

    I love your family. This story brought tears to my eyes for so many reasons. I love the relationship you have with your daughter. I love that you encouraged her to finish. And I love that she did!

  13. 21

    says

    My daughter read this. (8) She’s been having a hard time with competition and not winning lately. THANK YOU for writing in such a way that an 8 year old can understand and benefit. :)

  14. 22

    Alisha Santiago says

    Oh here come the tears. I was reading with bated breath each sentence. I was a track competitor and my daughter (4th grade – 9 yo) joined the 100 mile running club at her school this year. We love running together. I remember when one day she came home with half the skin missing from her elbow because she’d “wiped out” that day during running club. (This was just running. We are not hurdle-folks. That requires too much coordination.) I asked her why she didn’t call me and why she didn’t have a bandaid. My first thought was that they didn’t take care of her the way I would. Well, of course not. They (the school) are not me. My heart hurt that I was not able to be there for her and take care of her in her time of pain and need. So, it’s in those moments that I have to rely on God to take care of her and pray that she remembers to rely on her Heavenly Father, too. As so many of you can relate, that is often hard to do.

    You’re one of the BEST “okayest” moms I know. LOL. Congratulations to your daughter and thank you for sharing your life and wisdom with us!

  15. 23

    wendy wellborn says

    I have been on your blog for at least two years and I have to say that although we have never met, I consider you one of my Christian Mommy Mentors. Your blogs are mini-peptalks for me. Thanks so much for your insight into being a Godly mother! I appreciate it.

  16. 24

    says

    Way to go, sweet girl! I’ve been there- almost exactly (maybe even on that same track, just maaaany years ago!).
    I ran hurdles, at my first meet with zero experience.
    I fell hard once, in front of a lot of people.
    It’s no fun, but it’s certainly not worth it to be too hard on ourselves.

    You and I both have incredible Mamas. That woman is going to be your cheering squad for so many years to come.
    Love you both!

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