On camp this year I had to do my first talk to 11-14 yr olds. It turns out it wasn’t so bad after all, although that maybe because I couldn’t see many faces as the stage lights were shinning directly into my eyes. It made me wish that we took as much time thinking about how we visually illustrate points in our talks to adults as we do to the youff. The use of people acting out the points you are making is really helpful in making them stick in your mind. All of which makes me want to get a whole lot more creative next time I speak.
Anyway, that aside, I was speaking on my old favourite subject, perseverance. Camp was clearly themed around the Olympics, making illustration jumps to the Christian life a wealth of cheesy joy. I chose to resurrect an old Olympian who very helpfully shows what perseverance looks like. Derek Redmond in the 1992 Olympics was in the form of his life when this happened in the semi final:
This clip never fails to send tears streaming down my cheeks, despite my efforts before camp to harden myself to it. Here’s a man who doesn’t give up despite having no chance of winning the race, he gets up and keeps going around the track, through the pain and frustration and tears. And then his Dad comes on to help him limp those final 100 meters to the end of the race.
Perseverance is hard, messy, gutsy and doesn’t look or feel like winning most of the time. It doesn’t look like success. It doesn’t look like success. (I wrote that twice deliberately) Perseverance is tumbling motion, limping on, crawling when we can stand no more, being aware we are still on the track but barely. There isn’t much glory in the process. There is, however, someone who helps us on, someone who has walked this gutsy path before and won’t let go of our feeble shaky bodies.
Our Dad comes on the track, puts his arms around us, helps us lean on him and gets us to the end. To the prize, given to all running, walking, stumbling, crawling, sat on the floor in this race.
Today I finish a job where perseverance hasn’t looked neat or tidy or as if I’ve achieved anything. I’ve got it wrong, I’ve finished days in floods of tears and battled with failure.
I’ve not left the track though, I’m still in the race because my Dad has been walking around with me, holding me up. I’ve felt like I’ve been writing left handed for a long time now and it’s time to stop for a bit and rest. I’ve no idea what being a Mum will feel like or how my insecurities will play out in the minefield of parenting opinions but I know I have a Dad who will walk me through it. I want to know him more in these next couple of months before the arrival of McSquirmy. I want to know his arms around me. I want to know that perseverance is possible because he comes, he puts his arms around me, he lifts me and walks me home.