I heard a bell ring. I remember the sound. I quickly laced up my running shoes, and darted out the door. It was a cool spring evening. A breeze hit my skin, as I gazed to the other side of the track. In awe, I watched the runners with envy, as they’d leap hurdle after hurdle. I wanted to be one of them. I ached to be one of them.
I was on the track & field team in early in high school, running only short distances. I ran sprints, and was never quite successful. I never came in first, and most always came in last. It didn’t come as much surprise to me. I was never athletic. My pace was slow, I lacked motivation, and my short, chubby legs just couldn’t carry me far. I dreaded gym class, and every other sport when I was young.
However, the moment my eyes hit those hurdles, I felt differently. I was determined to train myself to leap the hurdles with the best of them. Knowing I had that goal in mind, my dad had a hurdle built for me. Summer evenings after school, we’d practice in the front lawn together. I’d watch the sky turn into a burst of color, until the sun finally faded into the horizon, and glowing fireflies danced around us. He’d coach me through each hurdle attempt, as my mom stood by cheering. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, gaining momentum, but I’d halt immediately once I reached the base of the hurdle. I was terrified of the jump, terrified of my legs hitting the top, of falling flat on my face, and most of all, I was afraid of failing. I’d practice over and over again with him, each time with the same outcome. He called out cues, gave me his epic pep talks, and I’d fall on my face each and every time, or I wouldn’t try at all. He still talks about it to this day laughing…of course with pride, as he recalls those memorable summer nights together.
I wanted it so badly, yet I’ve never in my life cleared a hurdle. My stumpy, short legs couldn’t quite make the leap. Jumping is not my forte. I’ve come to realize that.
Years later, I let go of the mindset that I was never strongest, leanest, or fastest in the crowd. It never mattered. I embraced the work and chose to improve upon myself, because that was all that mattered most.
Since having London, I remember so much of my past. Today, I remembered the hurdles. They are symbolic, aren’t they? In life, you often hear that you’ve got to make it over the “hurdles,” pushing past one challenge and moving onto the next. It sounds so simple, right? Wrong. What if you can’t quite clear the hurdle? What if you cannot gracefully, put one foot in front of the other, and land with ease on the other side. I’ve given it a lot of thought today. When faced with challenges, by all means, run full speed ahead, take that leap, and if you fall flat on your face, guess what? You’ve still landed on the other side, even if it isn’t pretty.
I reminded myself of that today, as the world seems out of my control. Life right now is far from easy for all of us. Perfection just doesn’t seem to exist, as much as I want it to, and grace feels so far away. Maybe it’s ok to stumble and fall, with goals taking a bit longer to reach. Maybe it’s ok to not know exactly how you’ll get there, or how many times you have to tumble before you do. At the end of the day, jump the hurdle. Take the leap.