Saturday, May 14, 2011

A welcome respite, well, sort of . . .

I never thought running a half marathon would be considered a welcome respite, but considering the events in our community over the last two weeks, it turned out to be exactly that . . . at least for the first eight miles.

As many of you know, I had committed to running a half marathon some time ago. My purpose for doing this was purely selfish – to help motivate me to get in shape. At some level it worked, I lost 25 pounds and was in good shape. But considering the tragedy that has befallen our community, I decided to be less selfish and take a more community-minded approach. I embraced an idea my good friend, William Lamb suggested. You see, William was one of the many victims of the storms of April 27th, suffering major damage to his home and property. He is also one of the most selfless people I know in that he served his community for endless hours over the past two weeks despite his own losses. His suggestion was to commit a portion of our community to prayer every mile of the run. I decided this was a wonderful idea and committed to prayer, beginning with mile one and William and his family.

However, the run was not without its comical moments. It started on about mile nine, with my pace slowing, I noticed spectators were pointing behind me. This is when a young man passed me . . . as he juggled. I don’t think there is much I can say about that.

Nonetheless, this embarrassment did not diminish my effort (only bruised my pride) because my true motivation was waiting for me at the end of the race. My wife and children had taken position just yards before from the finish line. My son was excited and was somehow under the delusion that I could win the race and when they arrived at the finish line, he said, “Mommy, I think daddy is in first place.” Then after many minutes and watching hundreds of runners cross the line, it became obvious that my son had significantly overestimated my speed and said, “Mommy, maybe daddy is in last place,” just another image of his father crushed by reality.

While patiently waiting for daddy to finally arrive, our son needed to take a potty break. My wife quickly whisked him to the nearest port-a-potty and told him to go on in. He opened the door and stopped, looking back at mommy, unsure of himself. My wife, sensing his fear of going alone was causing him pause, told him, “Go on, it’s okay.”

He started to go in, but stopped again, this time, dead in his tracks, he looked at my wife and simply shook his head no. My son was not typically this nervous, so my wife asked him what was wrong. This is when my son shared his true issue, in a quiet voice, he simply said, “Mommy, there is someone in there.” He obviously went in the next one.

As I approached the finish line, I stopped for hugs and kisses, only to have my son yell, “Daddy, GO!” He was probably fearful I would lose my place on the podium.

As I crossed the finish line (finally), I could not help but be overwhelmed by the blessings in my life and the devastation my community had suffered. I decided at that moment that I would not just commit my run to prayer for the people and families in my community. I would commit my daily life to prayer for the people and families in my community. Maybe it’ll help me forget those painful last five miles.

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