I enjoy running and regularly log about 15-20 miles a week. Yes, I’m one of “those” people who sets an alarm for 4 a.m. to get in a run before the sun comes up, but I live in Texas so I have a good excuse for my personal kind of crazy. I need a regular dose of endorphins and time outdoors enjoying God’s creation when the only sounds are my feet on the pavement, air moving in and out of my lungs, and the stir of the breeze through the trees. Of course, sometimes creation welcomes me with mosquitos and the special brand of “air that you wear” unique to the humid gulf coast. It’s kind of a mixed blessing!
Being a bit competitive by nature, I enter four or so half marathons a year. I find that I prefer the challenge of longer distance races. Maybe that has to do with being a mother to a child with special needs. I’ve learned as a parent to set long term goals and plot the incremental steps in getting there. One step at a time, one therapy at a time. I always start out on race day with a plan: pace, nutrition, hydration, all plotted out based on the mile markers. Those mile markers are so important, reminders of how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go. I also use them as reminders to take an inventory. Am I hurting? Am I tired? Do I need to do some self-care?
Mile markers are HUGE!
I’m thinking of mile markers because a dear friend has a son who is turning two today. That is a huge mile marker. I look back at how far he has come and look ahead at how far he has to go. So do his parents. At this particular mile marker, his mom is hurting today and I hurt for her. Mile markers are tough when where we are doesn’t match the plan we had back at the start line. As parents, we can’t help but take stock at certain times, looking for developmental mile markers that should have been reached, but remain ahead (we hope!) in a future we cannot see.
When faced with what we do not know, there is comfort in going back to what we do know. Where Is God in the life of my friend’s family today? Over 2,500 years ago the prophet Jeremiah wrote to the people of God who were living in exile with an uncertain future that they could not see. They longed to be in a place miles away, yet could not see a way to get there. Jeremiah shared this message with the people.
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NRSV)
God’s plan is not for anxiety and worry. Rather, God’s plan is for their welfare and a future with hope. God doesn’t promise us perfect, but God does promise that he is for us and with us at every single mile marker. When we are hurting, and not where we thought we would be in our lives, God’s message is one of comfort and hope. I pray that for my friend today.
I am not negating my friend’s very real feelings. It’s painful. I get it. I’ve lived it with my own child, as has every parent of a child with differences. Maybe my lesson learned in running applies back to parenting. Mile markers are a good time to check in with ourselves as parents and ask, “Am I hurting? Am I tired? Do I need to do some self-care?” When we pay attention to what we are experiencing within ourselves, then we can take care of those needs, helping us to refocus on God’s promised future waiting for us just around the corner.