Third grade brought a tough break for an 8-year-old. An unhelpful classmate, Rhonda, rubbed it in: "You ruined your perfect attendance record."
After missing nearly half of my kindergarten days contending with childhood illnesses, my first grade black-and-white composition notebook held page upon page of shiny gold stars, one for each day's attendance. As the summer break approached, Miss Rufino announced that I had never missed a day of school and might win the Perfect Attendance Award. I set my eyes on that prize, won the award in both first and second grades, and was determined never again to be absent in elementary school.
"It's German measles," declared my doctor. "You need to stay home from school." No amount of cajoling was going to change his mind. By third grade, my hope for a perfect record was dashed.
Entering junior high and high school provided a second chance for me to grab that perfect attendance brass ring, obstacles notwithstanding. I hobbled nearly a mile to junior high, trying to ignore the kneecap I had disclocated the day before, during a school trip to Central Park Carousel. In high school, I made it to class through transportation shutdowns, citywide crippling blizzards, teacher strikes, and the ever-present late '60s student-protest lines. The coveted perfect attendance prizes were won!
And it kept going. I was the person who never missed a day of work. It was a breeze for me to work through illness and pain, and soon it became all too easy for me to judge workers who took sick days off as less motivated or lazy. I began to equate being sick with being weak, and I was determined to be neither.
A tough break: Three deer tick bites in 10 years and delayed treatment because of misdiagnses brought a "new normal" to me, living with Lyme diesase. On the outside I look okay, but inside I struggle to deny and defy its painful realities; each day requires the mind-over-matter determination of a marathon runner.
My chronic illness exposes my weaknesses, my flaws. When I need to excuse myself from physical service, I wonder if people label me with the words I had used to judge others: unhelpful, lazy, unmotivated.
God's Word, however, provides me this encouragement: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles ... and run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).
And with the Holy Spirit's help, a new finish line now comes into focus: I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God as called me heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). Amazing race. Eternal prize.
Nancy Graf Peters
In Every Issue
1 btw ... The Forgiven Ring PDF
13 Young Women's Page PDF
14 Grants @Work My Journey from Asmara to Arlington PDF
15 LWML Mission Grants Update PDF
23 Shop LWML PDF
24 Lutheran Women in Action PDF
25 Lutheran Women in Action: Lisa's Witness PDF
27 Lutheran Women in Action: Oma's New Story PDF
28 Gifts of Love PDF
29 President's Page PDF
16 Living on the EDGE: Each Day as God's Emissary PDF
16 Living on the EDGE: Each Day as God's Emissary - Leader Notes PDF
18 Viviendo "A la Expectative" Cada Día Como Emisario de Dios PDF
20 What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do PDF
22 What to Do When It's Time to Move PDF