A hope note
One of our sons was a gifted distance runner in high school. When he was 14, he ran the mini-marathon and won his division (14 and under). The next day, however, the newspaper announced the divisional winner to be a 10-year-old, whose time would have smashed the world record for his age. Someone had to have transported him by car a large part of the 13-mile-plus ordeal.
That was 10 years ago, and I haven’t forgotten. The name of that 10-year-old is etched indelibly in my mind. Whenever I walk through my son’s bedroom and see his many trophies, my eye still tends to wander to the mug inscribed, ‘Second Place, Mini-Marathon,’ and I cringe a little again. For weeks, at first, I thought about calling his parents. I did complain to the race officials, who said they could do nothing after the fact. Sometimes I think it’s harder for us parents to deal with our children’s ‘water under the bridge’ than the water under our own bridge.
I want to make Matthew Henry my model for dealing with injustices and putting them in perspective. Henry was a famous Presbyterian minister in Wales 300 years ago. He got mugged and robbed. Afterward, he wrote this prayer in his journal: ‘I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed.’
A trip to a children’s hospital has always been my best therapy for keeping things in perspective. When we feel like sitting on a pity-pot, the sight of a child bald from chemotherapy, or paralyzed for life, or badly burned, can jar us and help restore a sense of balance and proportion about things.