First days of school have come and gone without a tear shed by me. It's not that I didn't care about these milestones, but I was okay with them. I never had that, "my heart is being ripped out of my chest" feeling . . . until today. Today my first-born son (7 years old) competed in his first triathlon. When I registered Jon for this summer's triathlon with the Y, I thought it was a good idea. Jon was open to this opportunity and started the Y's training program in mid-July.
A few key things to note - Jon first rode without training wheels in April of this year. Yes, I am aware that this is a wee bit late and we have our reasons (live on a busy street, steep driveway, etc., etc.) for this. Regardless, starting in July, you could find my husband teaching Jon how to ride his new mountain bike every Saturday morning. Let's say Jon was unsteady at best and fearful and prone to run into objects at worse. To be honest: I was very nervous.
Then there is the swimming. Jon fancies himself a good swimmer, but he has a lot of work to do. Frankly, he struggles in the pool with the crawl stroke and breathing to the side. He will take a few strokes, stop, lift his head up and breath, and then continue crawling. I saw many children using this same technique.
So, here it is today, race day. We arrive at the YMCA at the lovely hour of 7 am. Though I saw signs of hesitation and fear from Jon, I began to realize what a big deal this was for him. Had I pushed him to do this? Was I wrong to encourage him to give this a go? I could read his little face and see the fear. We talked about Philippians 4:13 and how that assures us that everything we do, we do it through Christ's love and power. As the tears fell a little down his face, he confessed, "I'm scared, Mom."
RIP goes my heart. Seriously, I want to sweep him in my arms, profusely apologize for having him do this and leave. Yet, I knew that was not the right thing to do. Had he REALLY not wanted to do this, we probably would have given him a pass. But being scared was not really reason alone to not do something for which you have spent weeks in preparation. Thankfully, I could hide my tears behind my sunglasses. I hugged and encouraged him. And then I sent him on his way.
He completed the swimming without too much trouble, which pleased me. I knew the running would be easy for him. But between the swim and run, Jon would have to ride his bike. I saw him struggle to get started and even fall. RIP goes this mom's heart yet again. Praise God - and with the help of some wonderful volunteer, Jon got going on his bike and did indeed finish the bike portion. You have to see the pictures - his face says it all. You can see the look of focus and sheer determination on his face. He was going to do this no matter what. I could also see the relief on his face as he finished the bike portion and walked his bike to the transition area.
Finally it is the run and, at this point, we know that he's got this. I can finally breathe. He finished and is beaming with pride. He said that when he doubted himself, he prayed and also thought of Daddy's words, "You can do this, Jon. Don't give up." And this kept him going.
This post is about Jon and his overcoming some big obstacles and fears, yet I do feel compelled to add something about me here. When I have been confronted with tough things that require me to s-t-r-e-t-c-h, I have sometimes given up. And that gave that doubting voice in my head more volume and took up more space in my head than it ever should have. And to see my son not giving in to that doubt and fear, well, it was just all I could not to burst into tears.
Phillipians 4:13 (NLT) "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength."
Thank you, Lord, for giving my son courage and showing him he can trust You in all things. Thank You for using this experience to show me the beauty of bravery, being scared but doing it anyway. Today, both my son and I grew a lot.