It was less than a week after my birthday. While not a Hallmark milestone year, it was a benchmark for me. Suddenly I was eligible for even more “senior” discounts. At 62, theater tickets and even hotel rooms are cheaper.
I receive your blessing, Lord. I didn’t come this far to walk away from a good deal!
While I was willing to embrace the discounts I was not willing to accept the tag. Senior.
My parents were senior citizens. Senior citizens grumble about their “fixed” income and eat dinner at 4:00 to avoid crowds and save two dollars.
I was scrolling through Facebook, which always makes me feel better about myself. Right there on my news feed was a post about the Disney Princess Half Marathon – my friend had just signed up. Suddenly (and a bit impulsively) I was in.
You should know this about me: when the total of any purchase approaches high double digits my pulse quickens; if it hits triple digits I need a gut check. And yet I navigated over to the web site, whipped out my credit card and shelled out $185 to register. I was giddy – it might have been the tiaras or the hopes of a “dream come true magical experience”, but I had grand visions of crossing the finish line, hand in hand with my dear friend.
I imagined we would spend hours comparing training schedules and cheering each other along as we added distance and shortened times.
I made a meme for my Facebook cover. I wrote it down in my goals. Oh, this was going down, friends.
Perhaps this would be a good time to mention that I hate running. I love the idea of running; but running hurts me. It twists my guts in knots; I get something called a “stitch” in my side. With every foot fall I feel the jolt, first in my feet and then up my legs and into my torso. I literally feel like I’m pounding the pavement.
After I’ve been in motion (I can’t run very far, but at least my body doesn’t revolt against walking) for thirty minutes or so, the nerves behind the third and fourth toes on my right foot begin to burn. It’s somewhere between fire ants and electrical shock. It’s most painful with foot fall, so it’s only hurts every other step.
My breathing is labored and because I’m panting so hard I’m thirsty before I get to the end of my driveway.
I should also mention that this friend lives as far away from me as you can get and still be in the Continental United States. With almost three thousand miles separating us, our joint training was not impossible, but highly improbable for two people who can’t seem to get together for an occasional phone call.
You have a question, don’t you? You are dying to ask.
Go ahead…I’m waiting.
Okay, I’ll ask it for you.
Why in the world did I think this was going to happen?
Twice I’ve positioned myself along a fence near the finish of the Disney World marathon. I watched every face as I checked the status of my runner on my smartphone. The first time, I was torn between urgency and dread.
26.2 miles. How could her body endure such punishment? And yet, I never took my eyes off the course as I scanned every face for the one that I loved. My child.
And I saw her. She was smiling, she was running well, and I cried. Relief and pride and joy swept over me. My baby girl had done it.
Again last January I stood near the same place, watching. When I spotted her I made a spectacle because I wanted to make sure she knew I was there. It was a harder run; she hadn’t trained as well and she was hurting. But she did it. I know she had to dig deep to cross the finish, but she did.
My beautiful daughter and her son at the finish.
Each time, I carefully surveyed the runners. They were all shapes and sizes. Some were running alone, others part of a team. Some ran for a cause emblazoned across their chest; others I was sure ran for reasons much more private but no less noble and meritorious.
I was inspired. I allowed myself to consider the possibility. I decided I would do that. One day.
And so it is not surprising that on that day, as I considered the number of days I hope to have left, I knew it was time to walk right into the dream that was birthed in my heart years earlier.
But August came and with it some significant pain that started in my hip and radiated down my leg and into my shin. I rested.
The pain persisted. It got a lot worse when I walked any distance. I relented; an appointment was scheduled and the diagnosis was harsh. Arthritis.
The short story is that I can’t do 13.1 miles. I’ll never cross that finish line, exuberant yet exhausted.
I’m been bummed. I’ve felt guilty about wasting the money. But most of all I’ve wondered what else is no longer possible. I have regrets over things not attempted. I also am beginning to understand why some of us are less “Snow White” and more “Grumpy” with age.
I’ve given this some time to marinate in my heart. I’ve asked God to cover it with grace and mercy as I consider what He would have me do next.
He is amazing ya’ll. He began to roll a highlight reel of my life. He showed me the races I have run; the ones where I crossed the finish line bloody and bruised and alone.
There were some where I barely could barely walk as I held the hand of one who came alongside and literally walked me across the finish. I saw the times that I crawled, too weary to look up…but he was always there.
I don’t know if I have days, years or decades left in this life. I don’t know how many of my dreams I’ll realize.
But I know this for sure:
When I cross the the final finish line, he will be there waiting for me.
He is watching, he is checking my status and when I get near, he’s going to make sure that I see him. I believe he will take my hand and help me across.
It’s true that I won’t be running with a tiara but I am his nonetheless.
Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;honor him, for he is your lord. Psalm45:11
The hardware of this life’s races will pale in comparison to all that he has for us in heaven.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because,
having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life
that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12 NIV
He will give you a crown of beauty for ashes. Isaiah 61:3
Can’t stop, won’t stop,