Yesterday I witnessed Marnie running and finishing the 4 mile race at the Octoberfest. This is not her first race or her longest - but she just had a baby 10 weeks ago and so it may have been her most challenging.
I honestly thought she might not make the whole 4 miles - with it being a 2 mile loop it would be very easy to quit in the middle (I saw at least one person do that). I also thought that she might end up walking. After all she had just had a baby! But she did not - she kept going, kept running and finished the race. And I was so happy for her and proud of her and she was proud of herself.
Tomorrow I will have a second book study at my home on Daring Greatly by Brene Brown and I realize I am watching all three of my daughters who are putting themselves "In the Arena" of real vulnerability. In Marnie's case, it was a conscious choice and in Kacey and Audrey's it is life circumstances. In my last post I wrote about the strike at Reynoldsburg Schools and Kacey is in there picketing and involved in every way.
Audrey accepted a teaching job after being unable to find a job in ministry and every time I talk to her I am realizing how challenging it is to be in the classroom - especially after a break of a dozen years. She is learning on the spot with critics all around her and she is doing it!
And I don't want to write about only my family - my life is full of examples of people who are "in there" - taking risks and trying new things. People like Jason who with some friends started a brewery, or Kim who is entering the Wellstreams program or Gail who continually is challenged in trainings and new experiences as part of the BREAD organization. And then there are people like Lisa and Jan who had the courage to quit jobs that were toxic and seek employment elsewhere. There are all kinds of ways that we find ourselves in the arena.
It was fun for me to be present watching Marnie but what I know is that life is really rich and full (and sometimes scary) when we are in the arena ourselves. . I celebrate my daughters and all who have the courage to take the risk of trying hard tasks. I also stand with those whose life circumstances have put them in that difficult vulnerable place of not knowing what is coming and wondering if you can persevere.
Here is the quotation from Theodore Roosevelt from which the title of book comes:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the person who points out how the strong woman stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the woman who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends herself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if she fails, at least fails while daring greatly....."