Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Living Up to Your Calling

It's the start of the school year, which coincides with the start of Cross Country season for my sons. Tonight, after practice, I took them both to a local restaurant for dinner. Chris was still at work and I just didn't feel like cooking. Over dinner we talked about favorite and least favorite classes, what classes they would have to work the hardest in this year, fears that were on their hearts, things they were excited for, and on, and on. My oldest said something interesting. In reflecting on Cross Country versus football, he said you really have to be in Cross Country because you love it, there will be no attention or accolades that you might get in football. He knows of what he speaks, he was on the football team for three years and enjoyed it. I sat and thought about that comment. 

I have two kids in this sport. Luke, in high school, currently runs about 50 miles a week. He has pushed his body to the limit. He eats a ton of food each day, packs his lunch religiously so he has healthy food at school. He studies running, thinks about it non-stop. Not to say football players don't work hard, they absolutely do. However, in Cross Country there will not be crowds cheering you on. It is a quiet sport. Parents and family members attend the meets, but no one else. You do have to be there for you and for the love of what you do. That being said, it has been the best thing for my boys, without question.

Liam has had a similar experience. His milage in seventh grade is far less than Luke's. His time is much higher. Unlike his brother, he does not win races, but is in the back of the pack. Honestly, I'm impressed he keeps at it. And yet, tonight he told me how he's been eating healthier to try and improve his time. How he wants to join the high school's team because he's seen how much Luke enjoys it. He's shared his dreams of improving his times. He talked about his goals. He too does this for himself, for the joy of being a part of this team, but with the knowledge that there won't be an award at the finish line. Instead he has the knowledge that he did just a bit better than last time.

Luke was right in his comment at dinner, and Liam had nodded in agreement. I was filled with gratitude once again for this sport they love, one that has taught them so much in two years. It reminded me of this quote from Penny Kittle from her book, The Greatest Catch

“When you’re teaching you’re going to see people who cut corners, don’t work as hard as they should, or just complain all the time about everything. I believe you’ve got to do what’s right, every single day of your life, even if the rest of the crowd isn’t. Teaching is about honor and goodness and mercy. It really is. And no one will be watching you most of the time. You either live up to the calling of this profession or you don’t, and most likely no one will ever know but you. But it matters because the kids are counting on you.”

So here's to those of us, doing our thing, for the sole reason that we know it is what's right. Not for the cheers, but because we can't imagine doing anything else. The start of the school year, of the sports season, is hard. It's exhausting work. But man alive, the satisfaction of a job well done is worth it. Knowing in your heart you reached your limit, you lay it all on the line, it is the best feeling. And whether it is making a PR in Cross Country, scoring that touchdown in football, or finding that kid and making a connection, there is no better feeling in the whole world. Wishing you all a year filled with joy and reaching for the stars. You are worth it.