During my junior year of high school in southern Maryland, I decided to join the track team for the first time. I had always enjoyed running and thought it would be a fun experience to run for my school. After preseason training, athletes were either assigned to or could choose the various events they would run in at meets. I decided to run in the 300-meter hurdles. This event has a distribution of hurdles along the 300 meters of track, and as the race goes on, each hurdle becomes harder and harder to clear. I thought that since I could jump fairly well, I would have no problem.
Despite my inexperience, I found considerable success throughout the season, winning first place twice at two meets. The hurdles seemed to be my niche. After the regular season, certain athletes on the team were chosen to run at the Southern Maryland Conference Meet. I was chosen to run the hurdles at this particular meet.
On the day of the race, I felt prepared to run and was confident I would do well despite the competition. When my event was called, I walked out on my lane, imagining my win. I took my stance, and the starting gun fired. I took off, bolting over the first few hurdles, and passing the other runners. I couldn’t help but smile as I became aware of my position—I was on the way to victory. Suddenly I realized that I still had about 150 meters and 4 hurdles left, and I was already getting tired. I had used all my energy at the beginning! I started running slower and slower, and my opponents caught up with me. With one hurdle left, we were all neck and neck. I approached the last hurdle but could not bring myself to clear it. I fell a few feet in front of the finish line. The other runners passed me and finished. Realizing what had happened, I got up and mournfully finished last. I was shocked at having tripped for the first time, and at such an important meet.
This experience was disappointing at the time, but as I look back, I am grateful to have learned a spiritual lesson from it. We face many obstacles and difficult encounters throughout life; none of us is exempt from having adversity. As we face the “hurdles” or challenges of life, the Lord expects us to have faith to overcome them. Once in a while our faith may be shaken, but through prayer, scripture reading, and obedience, the Lord will help us up after we fall and help us finish as long as we are willing to acknowledge our mistakes and repent. I know that the Lord aids us during and after our adversities and continues to guide us throughout life. He taught me a lesson I will never forget, even though I learned it through something as simple as running hurdles.