I’ve watched a lot of cross-country races in my day. All three of my kids participate in the sport, so I’ve become a big fan. One of my favorite races is the Steven Thompson Memorial Centipede. It’s unlike any other high school meet my kids’ teams attend because the athletes run as a single unit for the first two-thirds of the race. No joke: all seven members of the team hold a rope while they run.
For the final mile, they drop the rope and finish the race as individuals. But each athlete’s finishing time is driven, in large part, by the strength of their team whose collective pace positions them for the final mile. The fastest athletes finish slower than they do when they run alone and, often, the slower runners finish faster.
In the months leading up to my oldest child’s departure for college, I’ve been consumed with emotions and lengthy lists.
The fact that I’ve got lists should come as no surprise. I’ve got lists of items I need to purchase for her, tasks to get done, and wisdom to impart (all the things I’m sure I never taught her!). I suppose the emotions should be expected, too. (Note to the wise: do not purchase the airplane ticket for firstborn’s college departure when premenstrual; extreme risk to computer keyboard.) Yet in all the activity and tears, a single question has proved to be the most helpful in preparing me for this emotional milestone.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to “share.”
I knew the tears would well up in my eyes. (Insert cursory feminine joke about mascara here.) And I haven’t known these women for very long, so tipping my emotional cards felt (extra) risky. We were discussing hypocrisy in the Christian life and how our social masks put an intimacy barrier between us and others. My story was relevant to the topic and even illustrated the point, all while pressing on tender parts of my heart.
It reduced her to tears.
My daughter was pulled aside, her motives and commitment questioned. Her concern for others and willingness to respect authority were impugned. Because her heart and deference are authentic and pure, it absolutely blindsided her.
Later that same day, a package arrived for her. The inauspicious cardboard mailer contained a t-shirt from a race in Portland, a gift from friends she made over the summer at a running camp in Washington state. (And an autographed photo of Emily Infield. Woot!) But the most priceless gift inside was the card. The words inscribed affirmed my child for her
They say a picture says 1000 words. But what if it doesn’t tell the true story?
The photo below was taken at my daughter’s last cross country meet. The girls’ varsity team huddled together in prayer. This is customary for their team and many teams. They often gather before the race to encourage each other and then to ask God’s help over the course of their race… for strength, safety, and perseverance. Things you’d expect, right?
But that’s not what was happening.
“Back to school” felt really different this fall. And I did not like it one bit.
My oldest daughter really took responsibility this year.
She looked up her schedule.
She organized her supply needs.
She drove herself to registration.
And to school.
And to practice.
All. By. Herself.
Before she left for school one morning last week, I began to load her water bottle with ice so it would still be cold by the time her 3:30pm cross-country practice rolled around. She’d already prepared her own breakfast and lunch; this was my small token effort to come alongside. But she interrupted me, saying that she wanted to do it… a particular way.
I felt rejected.
She didn’t seem to require anything from me. She just didn’t need me. While we’re raising our children to prepare them for launch into adulthood, I wanted her to need me (for more than just registrar fees, anyway).
For some of us, prayer comes naturally. For others, less so.
I’ve got friends who make it through the entire Bible every year, but find prayer laborious. I confess, it’s not the best side of my spiritual life, either. My daughter recently expressed the same struggle: she said she didn’t feel close to God, probably because she’d stopped praying because it didn’t feel easy or comfortable. She was waiting to “want to” before she did. Before anyone gasps with horror, let’s acknowledge that we all have different “bents” in the spiritual disciplines. After all, I’ve got friends who would happily pray for hours, but rebel at the thought of reading their Bibles.
Summer is hard. Wonderful, but hard.
I find myself frustrated by needing to accomplish the same things I do during the school year days (client deadlines, etc.), but wanting (and needing) to spend the time with the kids. Result: this productivity junkie is getting very little done.
After reading multiple articles on how crippling perfectionism is to productivity, I’ve had to coach myself to use the 20 minute gaps of time interspersed within my days because I won’t have two uninterrupted hours. Instead of waiting until I have “enough time” to do something well (read: perfectly), I need to do what I can with the time I have.
This time of year, students everywhere are doing math.
Not just to demonstrate proficiency in concepts on final exams. Many are calculating the minimum score needed to obtain the desired final grade in the class. “I can get a 77% on the final and still keep my A.”
While it’s been a couple decades since I graduated from college, I still witness this kind of thinking.
My son is adopted.
He spent all but two weeks of his first 21 months in a Russian orphanage.
After more than 10 years at home with us, we still spend time in therapy each week. Most often, we’re trying to work through the issues of abandonment and rejection by his birth mother. My husband and I have tried to portray a woman we don’t know in the most positive light. To assume the best, if you will. We’ve even tried to ascribe some nobility to her actions: “She loved you enough to know she couldn’t take care of you.”