This past weekend, my two daughters and I traveled to Cleveland for the Rock N’ Roll Classic gymnastics meet. Born and raised in Bedford, Ohio, it always brings back memories to drive the familiar roads of home, in fact, the high school where the meet was held is where my first employer teaches school. My first job was a summer lifeguard, and he was the manager. Always interesting to walk somewhere that you previously trod, another lifetime, and even life stage ago. Okay, back to the present… with Grandma and Grandpa watching from the chairs, Emma headed off to begin her warm-ups. This would be her first meet to compete in all four events. This would be her first meet to compete after an injured pinkie. She had her game face on. Her goal was to earn a score of 9 on one event today. She was focused.
As I’m watching and learning this sport myself, I’m coming to accept the role that a mom plays – cheerleader from afar. Yes, once the gymnasts join their team, no parent involvement, all issues are taken up with their coaches. I can respect that. However, no one knows a child better than a parent. At times, it takes the self-control of a raging bull to not sneak out and simply say one word, to be that one voice that can breathe life and calm nerves. Yet, it couldn’t be my voice. I could see the doubt in her eyes, and watch her head shake a “no” to her coach, I knew she was struggling with her belief. The belief that she could complete the element that caused her injury – her round-off back hand spring. What’s a Momma to do? Pray. Pray to the One the who resides in her heart. Pray to the One who is always there for her. Pray to the One who gifted me with this child in the first place.
See, Emma had a choice to make, and she had to make it on her own. With all the hours of training behind her, it came down to one shot. One chance to dare to believe she could. Her coach encouraged her, yet she had to choose. She opted to go for it, with one stipulation. She wanted her coach to be there, right next to her, on the floor. She needed that proximity, of knowing she would be there to help her, to catch her if need be, she needed that “spot”. The moment came. She lifted her arms, she ran, she jumped, she flipped… she finished! No assistance needed. Was it perfect? Nope. Didn’t matter. She dared to believe. She succeeded. She beamed.
In fact, her last event was the vault. With the floor routine behind her, I sensed a new found freedom, or sense of relief in her posture. After her second attempt, I held my breathe for the score…. 9.150! Her earned her 9! She earned her 9! Her character is being shaped, piece by piece, how sweet the victory. Thanks for being my example today Emma, I’m so proud of you little girl!
I kept thinking about it over and over as I ran on the treadmill today. How often do we dare to believe in the impossible, or even the crazy? How often have we sensed God prodding us to do the crazy in the midst of adversity? As I watched the ending of the movie Days of Thunder today, an oldie but a goodie, Tom Cruise’s character, a race-car driver says, “I’m more scared of being nothing, than I am of getting hurt.” He had a choice to make. In the midst of very real risk, even to the point of death, he chose a chance at greatness. In the face of my God, I’m more motivated to obey, to risk the hurt, than I am to sit back, not risk, and miss a chance to experience His greatness.
I think of David facing Goliath, Ester facing King Xerxes, and even Mary facing a risk of stoning. Each person dared to believe. They dared to trust that He who was in them was greater than any enemy they would face. They took a “spot” with God right beside them. Their faith was greatly rewarded, others lives forever changed. What is it that you are daring to believe about yourself today? Four marathons, a dozen half-marathons, and a handful of 10ks and 5ks later, I can tell you that each step of obedience is worth it every time. One choice at a time. One day at a time. Never underestimate the power of His strength in your life… if you dare to believe.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.