At Family Camp this past weekend I watched a clip I had seen many times before, but this time I saw it from a new perspective. I had heard the story of Dick Hoyt and his son Rick, who was born with his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and therefore had suffered severe brain damage and was told he would never have a normal life. I had heard that his family was committed to give him a life that was filled with normalcy and love. I had heard of Rick’s request for an opportunity to go and complete a 5k race…and that when he did this, he, for the first time “did not feel disabled”. I had seen the images on utube and even heard them referenced across the nightly news. Tonight though, I watched with new eyes the journey that this man began with his son 40 some years ago.
What I had not known was that his father on their first 5k race ran and pushed his son in a wheelchair the entire way. (What an image!) What I had not known was that his father was a self proclaimed “porker” and had suffered from heart disease and was thrilled to simply cross the finish line and had planned to never attempt another race!
I watched with fresh eyes and I would like to encourage you to do the same. Unless you have seen this video in the last week…please watch again:
This time around…I saw so much more. As a trainer I saw the absolute magnitude of the task placed in front of the father. I marveled at his sacrifice and commitment to something that is so physically, mentally, and emotionally grueling. I now know the sheer volume of hours that were put in to train and the thought and energy that went in to preparing for one simple race—never mind the thousands that they have completed! The courage, love, commitment, and passion of the father is powerful. Yet, if I am honest, even though I did not have a clue when it came to the hours and discipline that it took, I did recognize the ultimate love and sacrifice of father to son.
The part that I missed was the SON. Rick Hoyt. Rick Hoyt has a powerful message to women…and to me…and I missed it! This whole thing started when Rick ASKED. Rick dared to ask the impossible. He asked his father to do something that was going to “cost” him something. It was going to put his father in an inconvenient position. His father had not always been a super fit dude who ran races…he was a typical overweight dad with heart disease. Thankfully Rick did not have the filter or “know better”…he simply ASKED. That “ask” lead to a complete life change for both father and son.
Rick also showed me something far greater…he was not apologetic. Watching the father pulling his son through the water on that raft, watching him CARRY his son in the transitions, and then watching the father finish the race exhausted with nothing left is a physical marvel. Rick at the end of the race is embracing every moment, his smile is contagious, his joy is obvious. He was not at the end of the race leaning back toward his dad apologizing for the huge sacrifices that he made on his behalf to carry him through the race. There was not an ounce of guilt or shame…he was thrilled and elated to be served and loved so unconditionally!
Great, all interesting observations Jenni, but why are you so intrigued?! I have lessons to learn from Rick Hoyt! I don’t ask. I don’t tell others my greatest desires. I don’t ask for help along the way. What Rick found was, that by asking, he gave his father a tremendous gift. He gave his father a new outlet and way to serve his son. He gave his father the opportunity to be his hands and feet. He also gave his father additional years on his life! His father would have missed a huge life-altering blessing if his son had not ASKED.
I ran the USMC mud run last fall. 4.2 miles, insane obstacles and a lot of mud. You race with a team of four…at the end one person is carried on a stretcher 400m. I was the girl on the stretcher. It was strange because I felt apologetic about my weight and the fact that they “had” to carry me. I raced with 3 dudes and if anything they should have been thanking me! Yet I felt bad knowing all that we had endured together and how exhausted we were; I hated for them to have the burden of carrying me an inch never mind 400m! I never want to be an imposition. I never want to be a burden or bother. I apologize if the person behind me at the grocery store has one less item than me. I apologize if I have to call a friend for a favor. I apologize if I am I am in a bad place and others see me cry. SERIOUSLY??? Does any of this sound familiar or is it just me? With this fresh look at the father/son love story, Rick Hoyt taught me we don’t have to apologize. We can actually find joy when someone serves us and we are given the opportunity to be carried. We can let go of the control long enough to see that ride as a gift! We can smile, receive the praise, cheers, and simply cross the finish line being carried. God places people at just the right times in our life to help carry us through the transitions, others who will push us up a hill on a run, or pull us through rough waters. We can ask them for help…or simply not apologize when they serve us…we humble ourselves to truly receive His best.
We are so quick to do it on our own. We try move through life without the help of others. We want things to look and seem perfect and that we have it all together. Rick has a secret. Utter dependency is best. Asking for help and sharing our dreams and fears may not be safe and may seem scary but what if Rick had NOT told his dad his heart’s desire? What if he had just continued on content with the stop at the 5k? He would not have traveled the world. He would not have felt SO alive. He would not have given His father the opportunity to love and serve his son. He also would not have given us such an incredible picture of humility and grace. I need to take more lessons from Rick Hoyt.