I learned a new term this weekend, it’s a runner’s term so surely I had never heard it. A precious friend ran a full marathon in honor of Katie, after 26 miles she met up with Katie to push her across the finish line. It was truly one of the most amazing moments to watch. As we hugged afterwards one of her family members threw out the new term, they told her she had a PR. What? She made a personal record, this was her 6th marathon and the fastest she had ever run. She immediately said it was all Katie, our precious daughter had inspired her to perform better.
This made me think about how Katie has brought out PR’s in so many of us. I like to call it our Personal Best. Her life is a marathon every day. When watching her walk in her walker for just 10 minutes you see the struggle, you see the fight. When she cries out to us, trying to communicate I see the frustration and confusion. When we put food in her mouth and she sits there refusing to swallow I see the discomfort. All of these things and so much more are apart of Katie’s daily life, yet she seems so happy most of the time. I truly believe her bond with God helps her see past this life into what really matters.
Before Katie I never learned what it meant to truly push myself. I exercised pretty regularly and worked hard in my career, but looking back those were pretty basic. Today, I see that pushing toward my personal best involves a different way of thinking. It means taking my own wants and needs out of the equation. We all learn this in parenthood, but it is intensified in the special needs world.
Early on in Katie’s life I just didn’t get it, I felt so sorry for myself because I wanted her to be normal, I wanted her to be what I had always dreamed she would. Now I see so clearly that she is so much better than normal. She has taught me to push myself to live this life to the fullest, but not to rely on it for happiness because what comes after is so much better.
Katie brings out the best in those who take the time to know her. Family members are dedicating their careers to helping other kids like Katie. Complete strangers come up to us to tell us how just seeing Katie touches their hearts. So many people donated to our marathon fund to raise $2000 for a local Early Intervention agency. These are all beautiful examples of Katie pushing us to do more with our lives.
The most amazing transformation in my life has been my desire to be the best disciple for God I can be. If my life had gone according to my plan, I am not sure where I would be in my faith walk. My bible study group is just finishing up St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews and a recent verse spoke loudly to me. “Endure your trials as discipline, God treats you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards.” (Hebrews 12:7-8) Trials are not punishments from God they are lessons that teach us to be our very best. Just as a parent disciplines out of love, God sends us trials because He adores us and wants us to dig deeper. I know this because Katie was once my trial, but I now know she is my greatest teacher in life.
I have so much admiration for my friend who ran for Katie. She loves to run and enjoys pushing her body to achieve more, but this marathon was different for her. She said when her training got tough she thought of Katie and focused on running because Katie can’t. The 20th mile of the marathon is always her most difficult, but with Katie on her heart she pushed through it faster and stronger than ever before. Without my friend, Katie would never cross a finish line. God pushes us all to look outside of ourselves and to focus on how we can help others reach their personal best. I’m thankful for my friend and so many others in our lives who run this race with us, because very often we need a good push.