On the Other Side of the Track

Whether it’s a home meet or an away meet, either my husband or I stand on the other side of the track to watch the race.

My son is currently running track in a couple of distance events.  If it’s a home meet, my husband is working the pole vault pit, and I am standing on the other side of the track cheering on runners.

If it is an away meet, we sit in the stands with everyone else by the finish line until it is almost time for my son to run.  But then I hustle myself to the other side of the track. In case you’ve never attended a track meet, it’s not like a football or basketball game where opposing fans sit on opposite sides of a field or gymnasium.  In track, all spectators sit on the “home” side to more easily see the starts and finishes.

But I position myself on the other side of the track.  The side where no one is cheering. This is intentional.  

Most people are eager to cheer at the beginning of a race.  The sheer excitement is palpable. And the end of the race, well, e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y wants to be present for the finish.  It’s fun to be a part of the awards, the accomplishments, the pomp, the ceremony.

But in the middle of the race, lap after lap after lap, there comes a time when the cheers diminish.   

That fourth lap of the mile, when runners pass me and their body says “no” but their spirit says “go” this is when I throw in some of my loudest encouragement, “You’ve got this!  Keep pushing! You can do it! You’re doing great!”

Our wreck was in July of 2015 in West Virginia. Ten days later my newly paralyzed daughter and I flew to Atlanta for therapy.  And Labor Day weekend we came home to Indiana. The local high school gymnasium held many family, friends, and community members who were there to support our re-entry.  And then a few days later things got real.

“You didn’t handle that well in West Virginia!  

“Tell me about the wreck.  Was it just awful?” 

And the real whammy: “So have you figured it out?  What unconfessed sin does your daughter or your family have that God would punish you like this? Why would He do this to you?”

I’ve no doubt these Christians meant well, but man, their “cheering” while I was “running” on the other side of the track didn’t feel good in any way, shape, or form.  And it’s why I rarely left my house for several months and steeled myself when I did.

And so I try to make more of a conscious effort.  At track meets, I try to stand on the other side of the track and cheer when the race is a little less glamorous.  And in life, I try to stand on the other side of the “track” and cheer when the “race” is far from glamorous. I’ve had to take a good solid look at where I stand and what I cheer. Sometimes I do a decent job.  Sometimes I don’t. But I certainly pray that I am much more intentional and careful about it than I used to be.  

And maybe that’s where you are too, Dear Reader.

Until next Wednesday, Lord willing.  Thank you for reading and for any recommendations you might make to family and friends about the blog.  

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