03 September 2015

hard running

As we settle into our school routines, I am savoring a few moments of quiet on pre-k days.  I am trying hard not to fill up the time but rather to accept the quiet as a gift.  Today I was finally able to put this parenting lesson into words. Kids are such great teachers!

Walker recently brought this picture home from school.

Its kind of hard to see, but the title is "Things I like" and he drew a long road with two people running.  Its him + me running. Of all the things he could draw, he chose this.  It melted my heart a little bit.

Its funny because our runs together aren't always a great time.  We've had our fair share of "come-to-Jesus-meetings" while running.  Both of us are similar in that at times we believe we can't do it.  Our bodies are fully capable, but our brains are acting like we may die at any moment. I recognize it in him, because its my default running style. Of course, when I run with him I can't allow my default to take over.  If he is having a good day I have to chase him down, and when he is having a bad running day I have to persuade him to get over it. So there is no time for me to start panting and believing that I am near death.  So I do prefer running with him. I'm just not sure how much he likes running with me soemtimes.

When we ran the 5-miler in July, we had a goal to finish in under an hour.  That is a 12-min/mile pace.  Its not fast, but its not walking the whole thing either. We trained a little but probably not as much as we could have.  We planned to run a mile, walk a minute throughout the race. Just after the 1 mile marker there was a hill.  It wasn't a long hill, but it was fairly steep and at the top of it there was a long, gradual incline. I remember this part of the race like it was yesterday.  We walked up the hill and then Walker basically decided that he was done.  I started reminding him that we had just run 4.5 miles the previous Saturday.  I told him his body could do it he just had to convince his brain. He was not listening to any of it.  I told him we could walk the rest of the way.  I meant it as a threat. He accepted it and said "fine."  I was dumbfounded.  And a little mad. I think I threatened to leave him and run the rest of it myself.  As I said it, another runner gave me a glance, in my mind the glance was something like, "what kind of mother threatens to leave her 9-year-old on a race course alone?"

At this point I said a little prayer.  There's nothing like being judged by someone to make you rethink your strategy, right?  The weird thing is that I felt peace.  God assured my heart that I knew my son and I knew what he was capable of.  I even had a sense of solidarity with God.  Not to sound flippant, but it was almost like He acknowledged that He gets those side-eye glances all the time in His parenting.  I thought about all the times I've heard the questions that start with, "if God is so good why would He allow...[fill in the blank with bad things]?"

So I told Walker I was going to start running and he could keep walking or run with me.  He ran. He decided to believe me and not himself and he ran.

photo credit: Mike Haskey/Ledger Enquirer

We finished the race just a minute over our goal. It was hot and hard but we finished.

And when Walker is asked to draw a picture of "things" he likes, he draws us running. He sees the big picture and enjoys the time together even when its hard sometimes.

This blows my mind. And also speaks to my heart. This morning when we read our proverb at breakfast these verses resonated with me.

"Do not despise the Lord's instruction, my son, and do not loathe His discipline; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in."  Proverbs 3:11-12

I thought about that moment out on the 5-miler course.  I thought about this picture Walker drew of our time together running. I thought about how desperately I want to be a child that doesn't despise instruction but rather accepts it.  Even when its hard and I don't think I can do it.  I want to be a child that trusts my Father, that believes He knows best even when my faith feels weak.

My kids are continually teaching me so much about myself.