I ran a tough marathon this year. It was the second one of my life and quite likely the last. It was my longest marathon and the toughest weather. I jokingly called it my first triathalon, and that’s not far from the truth. I believe it was the remnants of a tropical storm we ran through. Rain for 6 hours, wind, and general misery before clearing up and finishing with sunny skies and temps in the 70s. Don’t worry, I won’t post pictures of my close to 30 blisters, but they were definitely there — and painful.
I had totally wanted to quit. The weather was miserable and my body wasn’t doing much better than the weather. I didn’t think I was going to make the cut-off times where they cut your marathon short if you don’t keep up to a certain pace. When I thought about quitting, though, I recalled how my husband and son sacrificed so much time for me to be gone for my training. It had probably been great for their relationship and bonding to do all sorts of things without me when I was training, but it was nevertheless sacrifice for them.
I didn’t want to quit. I knew if I didn’t make it, they would understand, but I knew that I wanted my son to see me persevere. Because, after all, much of life is perseverance. I prayed on that marathon, I offered up and I rejoiced when I finished. I ran with a friend who is about a foot taller than me and finished about an hour and a half before me (I told her I didn’t feel bad about this disparity, especially when we discovered what had taken her 55,000 steps to finish took me 72,000; the disadvantage of short legs …).
I had planned ahead for recovery, right down to the Epsom salts, scheduling a massage and cleaning out the bath tub. I did NOT plan for what happened when I got home.
I had told my husband I didn’t want to stop for a meal post-marathon because I was afraid if I sat down, I wouldn’t be able to get back up. My husband and son got some food and joined us back in the car for the half-hour ride home.
We got home and I struggled up our townhouse steps (nothing like an extra flight of stairs). I was already envisioning my hot bath. I went to open the bedroom door and discovered — it was locked.
Apparently, my husband had tried to take a nap after he dropped my friend and me off at the race and he didn’t realize that my son had messed with the internal lock on our door. He had locked the door from the inside. Both “keys” we had for the door did not seem to work. The twisty-tie I had used previously in situations like this were in my bedroom. I was pretty much in shock and my feet felt like I was walking on hot coals. I did not yell at my son, but he could tell how exhausted and frustrated I was. He told me he was sorry. I told him I forgave him but I still needed to open our door. I kept from saying things out of anger that could have easily happened. I knew he had made a mistake and I knew that speaking in anger, frustration and exasperation was not going to help anyone.
My friend suggested I just take a hot shower in the guest bathroom and I explained that would work, but I needed clothes and they were in my room. I considered whether I could climb up to the bedroom from the second floor porch and than contemplated that even if the windows were unlocked it would be a really bad idea to put my dilapidated body on a ladder.
I asked my son to bring me a stool. I couldn’t stand any longer. I messed with the door for a while and my husband offered to kick the door down. I told him I had previous experience with that and it’s way more expensive than calling a locksmith. I can only imagine how dejected I looked. My son sat a little bit away from me and fortunately realized that silence was necessary. My husband came with a grocery store card and was finally able to open the door.
We all sighed with relief. Then my son came over with a smile: “You should say thank you to me.”
I looked at him and enunciated slowly — “Oh, I could say a lot of things to you right now, but thank you is not one of them.” Then I said, “Why do you think I should say thank you?”
He replied, “Because it was thanks to my prayers that the door be opened that it opened.”
I think I managed an “Oh, I see.”
As we celebrate this time of year and express gratefulness, I think of how many situations do we get into where it’s really difficult to find room for gratitude. Think of the times where maybe you think prayers are like a vending machine, you put coins (prayers) in and you get goodies out. Sure, that happens sometimes. But sometimes it feels like the KitKat you asked for isn’t working and you get a protein and fiber bar instead. I find myself wanting to bang the machine and tell me to give me what I asked for, never thinking that maybe I needed that protein and fiber bar.
That door getting locked and that frustration taught me two things: I’m more patient than I thought I was, and my son can teach me a thing or two about having faith in answered prayers. And for that, I’m grateful.
Copyright 2019 Meg Herriot