The Sock Race
by Michelle Hall
My 4-year-old daughter and I attended a skating birthday party for one of her school friends last weekend. At one point, the staff cleared the rink and allowed the youngest skaters to participate in sock races. One lap around the rink and the first one to the finish line won. My daughter wanted to participate, and I rooted her on, secretly doubting that she would actually follow through.
The whistle blew, and they were off. I truly expected my little one to quit before she got half way around. She hates to be hot and sweaty and generally shuns exerting herself. However, to my utter surprise, she ran like the wind. Her long skinny legs kicked smoothly back and forth in perfect form, her arms pumping her all the way to the finish line in the middle of the pack. She had given it her all, and she was thrilled to reach the finish. She bounded up to me, shouting, "Did I win the race like you do, Mommy?"
Now, I didn't have the heart to tell her that she didn't win and that though I am an avid runner, I have NEVER won a race. Not even close ... not even semi-close. I have, in fact, come very close to winning last place in a race. (The 70 year old power walker just barely stole that title from me.) Nevertheless, I didn't think my little girl would understand the purpose of running a race, knowing that you won't actually win it. And I didn't want her to feel the least bit discouraged to try something out of her element in the future. So, I looked her right in the big, innocent blue eyes and told an untruth, "Yep, just like Mommy."
The fact is that conventional medical "wisdom" tells me as a Muscular Dystrophy patient, I should not be exerting myself. I should not require my muscles to work so hard that they get fatigued and torn. I should just be sitting back, watching my body deteriorate, my muscles wasting slowly. I should see the writing on the wall and not even bother with running or doing any other endurance activity. I should join the seniors’ water aerobics class and sport a flowery swim cap, letting my feet softly bounce along the floor of the pool and call it water jogging.
Then why, oh why do I even bother running races? Each time I cross a finish line, I want to scream, “See what God has given me the strength to do, despite the fact that it doesn't make sense?!” I run because I truly enjoy the physical challenge and mostly because it actually increases my faith. I grow each time I cross a finish line.
In running and in life, I don't fail to run the race just because the odds are against me or because I think I may not win. Personal and spiritual growth are a result of simply running in the race. I finish one and realize I really can do it and even long to do another, and another. And before long, I begin to believe that I really can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, simply because I wasn't afraid to get out there and try.
Michelle Hall coordinates a MOPS and a MOMSnext group in a suburb of Houston. Visit her blog at runningtowinmyrace.blogspot.com.