My favorite part of running cross country was going on complicated runs. A mountain. A trail with winding paths. Hills. Any workout with terrain that was a challenge. It was exciting to not see the finish line until the very end. It was enjoyable to not know where to place each foot on the downhill until it was about to strike the ground. It was like unlocking a puzzle without the clues, finding point A to point B without a map and dodging cacti, loose dirt, and boulders along the way.
When I first joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I remember feeling like a big fat outsider. It took a lot of courage and bravery to show up for meetings in rooms full of people speaking often in a lingo I didn't understand. The culture of it all, it's unique and foreign. And sometimes a bit overwhelming, but the core gospel of it is important. So I would keep going and keep learning. And it seemed the more I learned the less I actually understood, I was just scratching the surface. At times it felt like I was trying to blend into a parade or a fast moving marching band, but my footing was off and I would stumble and trip. Fall to the ground. And I would want to give up and quit trying to get it. The culture, the doctrine, the pace just didn't make sense at first. It was frustrating, but I knew it was important (the gospel part of it anyway, not so much the culture). But I would get up and keep going and eventually more and more started to make sense. I learned to brace myself as I slid to the ground and each time I got up a little quicker and got back on the pace until I blended into this new-to-me world and marched in order with better comprehension and a stronger testimony all the while.
This week I completed paperwork that will lead us to diagnosing my oldest son with Autism. The weight of this has just about killed me on the inside the past few weeks. Completely making my insides a mushy grey. My knees have been so raw and bloody from tripping and falling as I try stepping into this whole new-to-me world that is getting more complex with every inch I try to learn. They say Japanese is one of the hardest languages to learn. I suggest that person never had an Autistic child, for this language has been feeling impossible. Perhaps because I am trying to learn all of it faster than humanly possible. And much like the gospel, it is pretty simple yet very winding and important and deep.
So I keep dusting off my swollen bruises from my falls and keep going. And I feel gratitude for that something inside of me that pushes me to keep going. And doing. And learning. And loving. Even when I just want to take a break and sit the race out for a while, pound my fists on the ground and cry. There isn't time for that. And although I admit the tears sneak out, I am finding my natural ability for endurance surface throughout my life in ways that impress me.
This terrain is complicated. The finish line is unclear to me. The path's going to be a little more vague than I initially thought. While we raise our children, I realize it's not going to be typical laps around the track. We'll be taking our journeys over mountains and learning the footing as we go. Wearing those sneakers so we can be ready for the place the foot should strike the land and holding our scriptures under our arms as we find our way into the Autism Parade Marching Band.