Here in New Mexico it brings Mexican music, great food, celebrations everywhere and a feeling of festivity everywhere you go. When I was growing up, however, it was Spirit Day at my school. I attended Elvel School, a bilingual school in Tegucigalpa Honduras, well known for its discipline and high standard in academics. We were reprimanded if we did not walk silently and in a straight line from class to class. Our uniforms had to be perfect every single day, and if they were not, we earned a trip to Ms. Tavel’s office—and believe me, we all cringed at the thought! I still do! To say the least, this school was serious business!
But one day a year, we would wear shorts and t-shirts, laugh all day long and run like crazy! I know it’s weird but that’s what we did. The empty lot behind the school became the site of our ‘mini-olympics.’ The staff would create a track complete with perfectly straight lines made with sawdust, along with other things like long and high jump stations. We all had to participate in all events whether we were athletes or not. We were required to have fun!
The interesting thing about this day of competitions was that there was no formal training for it. We went about our year normally until 5 de Mayo rolled around and then we ran like crazy! I remember sizing up the track every year and wanting to win more than anything else in this world. Medals were that day’s bling! I can still feel my heart pounding inside my chest as six of us heard the words, ‘On your marks, get set, go!’ I fixed my eyes on the finish line and ran my little heart out.
Inevitably, however, about 60 feet from the finish line I felt the effects of bad conditioning. My legs felt like they were being ripped apart, my lungs like a vacuum had sucked up all the air, and my heart like it was about to call it a day! It literally felt like I was going to die on that sawdust-ridden track. But in all the years I ran the same race, the pain never stopped me. I kept running until I reached the finish line. Sometimes I finished first, sometimes third or tenth, but every time I finished that doggone race!
5 de Mayo for me now is a reminder of my ability to win the race that counts – my life! None of us is given ‘proper training’ for this life and the events that are hurled our way as we run along. I can’t say I was prepared for parenting, but I am parenting every single day. I can’t and I won’t take a breather in that race. I am being prepared as I RUN alongside my little cubs.
Church planting is surely the last thing I prepared for in my youth. I went to Bible School to know God better. I went to college to be a teacher, but God has also called me to plant churches. I am on my second one as I write, and sometimes I feel like my lungs don’t have what it takes to keep running in the face of the financial, emotional, and physical adversity that comes with such an endeavor. There are days when it would be easy to stop altogether, but I can’t because of the thought of crossing the finish line with as many people by my side as possible. Conditioning is overrated when you can RUN.
I guess my longwinded schpiel serves only to say this—I have a race to run. You have a race to run. That race is unpredictable, sometimes heart-wrenching but every time doable! We are not racing against the Joneses. We are not even racing against ourselves! We run to finish the race and the only important thing to remember when your lungs feel like collapsing and your legs melt like jello is to keep running, jogging, walking, moving, until that second wind from on high hits us and we finish strong!
No lack of preparation or conditioning can keep us from finishing our race. Maybe you don’t feel prepared to run, but RUN anyways.
- Mercy Alarid is the Creative Arts Pastor of Passion Church. Mercy has a Master's degree in Education. Mercy is a member of the faculty of Central New Mexico Community College, where she is an instructor in the Education department. Mercy has been married to Brian for 17 years and they reside in Albuquerque, New Mexico with their 3 children: Chloe, Colin, and Lauren.