GRANDKIDS ARE FUNNY, and I’ve often laughed myself sick over things mine have done. But one Thursday many years ago, as I watched my nine-year-old grandson run a cross-country race, I came close to tears.
He’d phoned me, you see. Told me he’d been chosen from his school. Invited me to come and watch. And asked if he could borrow Gran’s Nikes. To help him run faster.
So next morning, I met my grandson and his fellow-athletes near the start-flag. They were pumped-up and twitchy, nervously eyeing their rivals. But when the whistle blew, they lined up, hunkered down, and ready-set-WENT!
As they swarmed off around the course, he and I were hoping the same thing: with his grandmother’s Nikes, might this be his lucky day? But my grandson wasn’t born to run. And I knew what that felt like …
I arrived on this planet with a body that was NEVER gonna win a race. And, as a schoolboy, I felt not a single urge – no, not even the slightest TWINGE – to run faster, jump higher or beat anybody at anything.
Which was a problem, of course. Because this world loves WINNERS, not losers. Losers don’t get medals and trophies. They don’t get their photos on the front-page. And nobody cares what losers think.
But I discovered one day (can’t remember when) that MOST people don’t come first! MOST people lose MOST of the time! And 99 out of every 100 are NOT going to win – they CAN’T!
Sure, winning’s great! And I’m the first to cheer a hot-shot shot-putter or triumphant triathlete. But losing’s NOT the end of the world. And ordinary’s okay …
Those memories filled my head that morning as the winners crossed the finish-line. Because my boy wasn’t with them. In fact, it was 12 long minutes before the tail-enders showed up – and lucky last, flushed and puffing on jelly-legs, was my grandson.
Like I say, I nearly cried. And I think he was close to it, too. But as I told him later: he hadn’t stopped, he’d done his best, he’d finished that race with a smile, and I was more proud of him than he’ll ever know!
JOHN (GRAPEVINE’S FOUNDER) BEGINS EACH NEW DAY WITH THIS PRAYER: “LORD, GIVE ME LONGER ARMS OR PUT MY FEET HIGHER, SO I CAN DO UP MY SHOES WITHOUT FEELING I’M ABOUT TO GIVE BIRTH …”