Watching my daughter at her gymnastics class has become one of my favorite ways to pass the time. Really. She is so stinking cute, with her tiny self and quick movements and perfect little tushy.
I could just squeeze her.
She is brave and (mostly) focused, trying every task they present to her with little or no hesitation. On top of that:
- She’s a full foot shorter than the next smallest girl in her class – doesn’t faze her.
- She’s younger and less skilled than the others – doesn’t intimidate her.
- She can’t reach the beam or vault mat without an effortful scramble – doesn’t stop her.
She does her best approximation of the conditioning exercises; no ankle weights for this tiny gymnast, even though the older girls have them on. She’s just not ready for that part. She jumps off every surface, no matter how high, and smiles proudly when she beats the others to the water fountain at break time (though I strongly suspect she’s the only one actually competing in that race).
She does all of this with a spirit of enjoyment, a clarity of purpose, and a tenacity that fills me with pride and wonder – not only as her mom, but as a woman. Because this diminutive little lady has already figured out what so many of us never do. . . or often forget.
In the words of my fabulous For the Love pal and author, Jen Hatmaker: “Run your race.”
And she does.
She isn’t distracted by the other girls, at least not enough to slow her stride or change her game. She isn’t minimized by their talent or embarrassed that she’s smaller/weaker/less advanced. She’s out there, doing her thing. . . and loving every minute of it.
It’s fun. It’s adorable. It’s inspiring.
It’s a smiley, curly-haired, freckle-faced reminder to her mama, and to all the other more worn-down gals out there that this is how we’re meant to be.
Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Throw off everything that hinders. All of it—the insecurity, the doubt, the sense of not being good enough, the comparison, the competition, the fear.
God did not create us to be imitators of His other creations.
He did not go through the effort of making us each unique and individual, only to have us lament that we are not the same as everybody else. And He certainly didn’t mean for us to stop halfway through our race, or before we even really get started, because we assume someone else would do it better, or laugh at us, or criticize how we run. That system would be one in which we are meant to fail, and while He is many things, our God is not a cruel trickster. It’s just not his bag.
He gives us each a set of gifts and talents and tools, and then he gives us each a set of opportunities and relationships and circumstances in which to use them. We just have to figure out the what and where, then take off. It’s generally not easy, but it shouldn’t be impossible, either.
When we spend our time worrying about what everyone else is doing, or bemoaning our perceived inability or awkwardness, it gets harder to see the possible as well as the path.
I was humbled, as I watched my little girl teach me a lesson last night. She gave her best for the hour we were there, and when it was time to go, she ran towards me with her arms outstretched for a hug and our traditional post-class recap ending in a high five. Her face was flushed, yet beaming. Her muscles were tired, yet stronger. Her resolve to practice and improve was renewed.
Yeah. . . she gets it. And in that moment, so did I.
It’s a lesson I have to learn over and over, because I so easily forget it. We all do, I think. Thank goodness our Teacher is so patient.
We skipped out of the gym, my miniature tutor and I, both light-hearted and thinking happy thoughts; both on the same page, in spite of our age difference and role delineation. On this occasion, we exited hand-in-hand, re-entering the outside world as two daughters of the King who had been given His instruction together. She doesn’t know the depth of the teaching she received today. . . not yet. She doesn’t realize what she showed me, or how she blessed my soul. But I do. And I will carry it and continue its working in both of us as we grow and go.
Solidarity, sisters. Ready to run?