This morning we engaged in one of our semi-annual Thanksgiving traditions – we joined 15,000 other runners and walkers for the Ft. Worth Turkey Trot 5K race. It was a great morning; just cool enough stay comfortable in winter running gear, but warm enough to be pleasant and friendly. Entering a race with 15,000 people takes courage; our ability to perform is public, on city streets, for everyone to see. But it’s also very private because all those peering eyes are only worried about their own lives and loved ones.
Yet, it’s great fun to be part of such a large tribe of people, to be one of us with all of them. It’s contagious. We’re all wearing the proper tribal colors (race T-shirts, high-tech fabrics, running shoes), and we all had fun.
Maybe the reason we hang on so desperately to family traditions (watching the Muppet Christmas Carol, running the Turkey Trot, reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, going to a Thanksgiving movie together, and like that) is because we need them.
Too many things in life change too much too fast; we need traditions to hang on to.
Families change is ways we never expected.
Some relationships get destroyed, other relationships get restored.
Daughters fight through disappointing outcomes and feeling abandoned and unimportant.
Sons fight their way back down long crooked roads to find their voice and place and value.
Parents fret over life’s role reversals and take on responsibilities for their own parents they never expected. Parents fret over their own kids long after those same kids are grown adults.
Grandparents find expected and unexpected joy in being called by name by little girls.
Living with families breaking up and families being restored takes courage because everything is so unexpected. As my dad said after an hour of hiking on Guadalupe Peak, “You can’t train for this, you just have to do it.”
The grace of God flows down and covers empty chairs and broken hearts and restored lives and lost memories and growing boys and lively little girls, so that making the best of it becomes a worship experience.
"I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32