I always enjoy watching the Olympics but never thought I’d be one to compete! I know I just don’t have that kind of drive in me!
But, she was built just like I would have imagined a speed skater with muscular and very strong legs that resembled the pillars supporting a Georgian colonial. She was soft spoken just like I’d picture one with the determination needed to skate fast, head lowered, and passing up all competitors. It was early in Joey’s schooling that one of his teachers shared with me she had won the silver medal in the winter Olympics for speed skating. Jenny Fish Baker won the silver in a 3-way tie for that spot in 1968 for the 500 meters event.
Though I was able to see the outward manifestations of one with an Olympic medal, I had no idea what it must take to train day after day to get to that place in any sport!
Then…I began to see a bit of a similarity that others might miss upon first glance. I don’t have the physical characteristics of one that would qualify for the Olympics, but I have some inward qualities that qualify me for the race of life and I’ve seen those qualities in others with whom I rub shoulders from time to time. Here a few that comes to mind:
- Determination – Whether in a school, church, or a supervised work setting for my son, I am determined to get him what he needs to excel. For the most part it has been a quiet determination to help him get there.
- Perseverance, Persistence and Endurance – God has given me a lot of energy thus I can persevere without quitting and for a long time! Even when I’m tired (and maybe crabby) I keep plugging away at whatever is before me when it comes to helping our son.
- Commitment – Most of us in this race come by this naturally. We are committed to all of our children, knowing there is a different level needed with one with special needs, often because they can’t do it on their own now or ever like our other children will be able to do someday.
- Loyalty – Loyal to the person and the cause. Simple: it’s called love!
- Desire to win. Not for me – for him. I want to help him do his very best and succeed…however that looks for him!
But just like an Olympian, I don’t come to the playing field alone. My husband and I have had the support of our family, our church, and friends. Here’s how they’ve helped:
· Encouragement – Even now, our grown daughters and their husbands, other family members, and church acquaintances encourage us to run the race well. They hold us accountable when we are lacking what we need: building us up, encouraging us, and helping us in various ways that others might not see we need when we need to catch our breath!
· Respite – Rest is needed when one trains and works hard. The body needs to heal from wounds; gaining new strength as one gets back in the game. Sometimes we just have to stop and rest. Our church family has helped with transportation, meals, and has a program for parents to have a “night out”!
· Guidance and direction – When we are lacking in any area, it’s wonderful to have others who will keep us on the right path so we won’t get weary!
· Oversight and mentoring – How encouraging it is when others can breath life into one who is tired and wants to quit. I’m sure it happens a lot on the journey to the Olympics and I can assure you it happens often in everyday life raising one with special needs.
· Commitment – To know there is even one person at church, a friend, or in our family who will be with us no matter what….gives life!
While I’ve never trained as an Olympian, there are a few things we have in common, and for that, I’m an Olympian of sorts!
I Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.” NASB