It's the middle of the night and again I sit here not sleeping... thinking of Heni.... analyzing her life and the life we've lived with her over the past 21 years.
Earlier this evening I was looking at photos of the children when they were all younger... reminiscing of old times and feeling a sense of sadness. It was a feeling of having missed out on seeing my babies grow and having missed a lot of their childhood because of the time that it took to care for Heni's needs... especially in those early years.
I've also been missing her and feeling a sense of guilt for not being able to give out 100% throughout those years to either her or my other kids.
However, as I have been sitting here, a picture crossed my mind of years earlier (prior to any children), when I would go down to the athletics track to train. My coach would line us all up with a schedule each evening and would vary the workouts on each training session. Sometimes in the winter it would be a slow, longer run to build up stamina. Sometimes it would be a weights session to build strength. As the seasons changed so would the workouts. Sometimes he would give a pyramid of runs (3 x 2oom, 2x300, 1x400 and then back down again) and each run would have a percentage exertion level to aim for.
As time for competition approached, the training distances shortened and the intensity increased to build speed and agility... but always the exertion level would only ever range between 60-90%.... we were only ever asked to give out 100% effort in the odd sessions during the few month prior to the competition ....followed by a light few weeks.... and then during the race itself. We were never asked to give out 100% effort for 100% of the time. That would have been totally unrealistic and even dangerous....resulting in fatigue, burnout and injury.
It made me appreciate how unrealistic my expectation of giving out my best effort 100% of the time during the 21 years of caring for Heni actually is/was.
The thoughts of these early years athletics training allowed me to see that the race we had to run with Heni was a long one, far longer than we thought it would ever be.
At the start of the 21 years we thought the race was going to be a short sprint... but then we began to perceive that the race and training schedule was changing. We had to start running for longer and cut the intensity level down somehow.
We realised that you can't sprint flat out all the time.
During these longer races you do often still have to do some sprints at "all out effort" and then still carry on running though! Multiple times you think you can see the end of the race, but the tape is moved and you have to keep going to the new finishing line. Most of the time you don't actually know where that line is... it is a forever moving target and you have to keep on running not knowing when you can stop.
The % exertion/effort, is forever changing up and down, day to day. At times you have to give 200% and feel totally winded by the all out effort ....at other times all you can do is crawl along at snails pace trying to keep going... at each point it's still your best effort and all you can possibly do.
At points along the run... you have to jump many hurdles and at points (if you are lucky) it morphs into a relay race....with the baton constantly changing from hand to hand between yourself, your partner and perhaps a team of carers... allowing for those precious pauses to catch your breath before you need to be off running again.
It's just plain impossible (and not expected) to give out 100% effort 100% of the time. We are not expected to run faster than we have strength. Fatigue, burnout and injury are just as common in this style of race and sometimes you have to pace yourself, pass that baton and train and run wise.
At each stage...all that matters is that you are still in the race and didn't give in. Whether it be running... giving out 40%, 60%,100%, 200%... or even if you are crawling or sitting on the side lines recovering.
It reminds me somewhat of the scripture.....
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7) .
You just have to be dedicated to show up at the track every day... even to do the lightest schedule and shown full commitment till the race has finished.
My athletics coach always had a plan and knew the purpose and outcome he desired to each and every training session. We relied up on his wisdom and experience to build us up and get us to where we needed to be. Likewise, I have firm faith and belief that my greatest coach of all... even my Heavenly father also has a plan and a purpose in our lives with Heni....I can see that the training schedule has constantly changed along the way and at times He was building our stamina, at times strength and at other times agility and speed.... but most of all He has been building up our reliance upon Him.... and I know that He will not let us down and will get us to where we ultimately need to be.
Now after my midnight analysis, and as our particular (earthly) run with Heni has finished, I look back on the race...
I feel like we did what we were capable of at each stage...
we continued on at the pace and effort we could muster on any given day...
and as I look forwards to the future I know that God will direct the future as he has the past.....
....and that faith in Him is all that is really ever required.
If you would like to know more about Heni you can read:-
Heni's story part 1 here
Heni's story part 2 here
Heni's story part 3 here
Heni's story part 4 here
Heni's 21st here
Empy chair and an aching heart here
It could be worse here