When Mike used to travel, he often told the story of Olympic hopeful Derek Redmond at the 1992 Barcelona games. He recently came across a video on youtube of this moment in Derek’s life. If you haven’t seen it before, it is worth watching. [view video]
It never failed. I would cry every time Mike retold the story. I’ve cried every time I’ve watched the video. There is something so profound when in a moment of brokenness someone steps in to lend a hand. And as a parent now, it strikes an even louder more resonating chord in my life. I’ve shifted from being the dreamer (Derek) of the story to being the dream-helper (Jim). I have my own sons now.
I want with everything inside of me to see Elijah and Noah succeed at whatever it may be they want for their lives, with as little pain and struggle as possible. I have already often said if I could take on pain or sickness or injury or failure for them I would, so that they would never know what it feels like.
But that isn’t how life works.
Good things happen out of struggle. Victory often follows defeat. Things that are worth pursuing are often sought out in the midst of and despite things that are awful and painful. It’s the stuff of good stories – the stuff of lives lived well. It’s the stuff my boys need to know personally so that they can reach their dreams. Elijah and Noah will inevitably experience frustration, defeat, apparent failure, and any number of set-backs along the way – and I hope that I will be attentive, present and wise enough to come alongside them and walk with them – whatever it may mean for that particular season of their lives.
I realize this type of parent-child relationship doesn’t happen overnight. This is the sum total of years and years of walking alongside our children in seemingly insignificant ways – through runny noses and potty-training to junior high and first dates. I can bet that moment in Derek’s life was not the first that he experienced his dad’s unwavering support. I’m sure there were years of Jim being attentive, present and wise in Derek’s life long before he was given the opportunity to demonstrate it in front of a stadium full of people. If we’re there for them in the little things, I really believe we will be given the opportunity to be there for them in the big ones too.
So for today, I know that Elijah needed a cheerleader to help him finish his eggs and carrots, and Noah needed an extra snuggle to get some much needed sleep. The issues they face now may seem to be small in comparison to losing an opportunity at an Olympic gold medal – but they are just as real to them, and just as important to me today as they will be tomorrow.
What can you do today to walk alongside your child?