I choose to participate in a half marathon on Sunday. I am using the word participate because to say that I ran a half marathon would be a slight exaggeration, no an enormous fabrication, actually, an outright lie! I walked the majority of the 13.1 miles. Despite the fact that I finished slowly, I finished. I finally accomplished a goal I had set for myself.
Finishing was great, but the journey was better. Sunday was a beautiful day in Oklahoma City. The weather was perfect. The neighborhoods that we marched through were filled with people cheering us on and offering us treats. Of course the usual race fare was offered to us: bananas, oranges, and pretzels; but there were fun items offered as well: bacon, candy bars, and doughnuts! Ice cold beers were handed out along with sports drinks and water. It was a fun and festive day.
As great as all of the external things were, the best part was walking with God. I had my praise and worship playlist running on a loop while I enjoyed the beauty of God’s world in an urban setting. It was a wonderful time of fellowship with my Lord while walking. I found the solitude in the solidarity of the other marathoners comforting. I was able to peacefully pray and walk. The lack of conversation with my fellow travelers wasn’t the least bit troubling to me.
When I crossed the finish line, I was elated. There was a party at the end complete with free cheeseburgers, chocolate milk, and fig newtons; I was in heaven. My boys and I took pictures together, high fived each other and compared times. One left me in the dust on the half marathon course, and the other participated in the full course. They had stories to tell about their treks and I was completely refreshed after mine.
Then the truth hit me: I HAD NO IDEA WHERE I HAD PARKED MY CAR.
I knew I was by a bank that used initials for its name and I had an approximate idea of the street name. That is all I could remember. This is disconcerting on so many levels. I knew I was lost, but I have been lost before. This time, the fact that I couldn’t remember the street where had I parked, was very unsettling. I remember so much trivia, how could I forget something so important?
My youngest son went home with his grandparents while my oldest son and I took on the monumental task of locating a needle in a haystack.
For the first two hours, I was fine. Then I turned around and my twenty-year-old wasn’t with me any longer (apparently he had a leg cramp and didn’t bother to let me know). He phoned my parents and they picked him up. He was safe, with the only working cell phone, and I was alone. That’s when I stopped joking with myself about my predicament.
I sat down and had a quick pout. The pout turned into a little pity party complete with slow rolling tears and quickly escalated into an ugly cry in a very public location. I stood up and hobbled around the metro area searching in vain for my missing vehicle while blubbering like a lost two-year-old. I was a wreck and felt very alone and very stupid.
My vulnerability was at an all-time high when a kindly stranger asked if I was okay. My sarcastic brain kicked into gear and it was all I could do to stifle my sarcasm. I wanted to blurt out “What? The tear streaked face and shuttering shoulders didn’t give that away? Yes, there is something wrong!” Instead, I gulped down my humiliation, turned and walked away. It was easier than doing or saying something stupid.
After that brief encounter, I started praying more fervently for help. That man might have been the help I had been asking for, but I was too proud to ask. I continued to walk aimlessly around downtown searching for my car. Every corner looked familiar because I had walked past it ten times already. The darling little coffee shop I had discovered ceased to look so inviting when I walked past it a third time. The friendly homeless gentleman I had talked to briefly was looking at me like I was a little off. The more steps I took; the more tears fell. I was a wreck and I don’t cry! The elation and enthusiasm of hours earlier was replaced by worry and weariness. I can’t imagine how the Israelites must have felt wandering in the desert for forty years. I could barely survive three hours!
Shortly after the realization that I was probably going to spend the night on the street, my parents pulled up in their van. They had my son and a water bottle. They called my husband and drove me to where he was so we could continue the search.
Unfortunately, things got worse before they got better. I endured being verbally berated by my husband for my inability to remember where I parked and for my phone running out of battery. Two things I was very sorry about, but unable to change. I thought about the times that my children had messed up and faced similar situations. How awful to feel awful and then be yelled at for being awful. It was awful!
I am so grateful that when I mess up God doesn’t do that. He doesn’t reprimand and rebuke when I lose my way. He joyfully opens the van door and welcomes me back with a refreshing bottle of water. His compassion comforts me when I tearfully turn to him for deliverance.
The next time I feel the urge to yell at my kids when they disappoint or displease me, I hope I remember this event. I hope my reactions reveal my love and not my insecurities.
Although the end of the day wasn’t as pleasant as I had hoped, the beginning was fantastic. I will run this race again and I hope the weather is just as wonderful. Next year I will change one small thing, I will sharpie my car’s location on my arm when I park the vehicle so I don’t go on a three-hour stroll through the streets of downtown!
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, and a part-time basket case who wants to be a full time writer.