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.
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.
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.
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:
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: