Today marks the start of a new season for me as I start a new job working for a very wonderful publisher here in Edinburgh. More on that another time. Suffice to say I’m both nervous and excited in equal measure.
In preparation for the job, I decided to see how long it would take me to run the route to work. So one Sunday morning, I blew off the dust from my trainers and started to put one foot in front of the other. Bear in mind I’d just recently got back from our trip to Australia and New Zealand, where a) I had done relatively little exercise and b) I had eaten with absolutely no restraint. So let’s just say I wasn’t at my optimum fitness. Rich set off with the kids at the same time and agreed to meet me at church, at the end of the route.
I steadied my breathing and weaved my way through Holyrood Park; past lake, woods, and my favourite Edinburgh landmark, Arthur’s Seat.
It was just after I ran out of the gates of Holyrood Park that I noticed it: a familiar car carrying four familiar faces. And then came the familiar voices: the cheers, the whoops and the “Go on Mummy”s.
Yes, I can confirm, four Robinsons can make a lot of noise when they want to.
I beamed back at them, though to be fair my face colour was already fairly beaming by this point anyhow. Thinking this would be a singular occurrence I waved goodbye and went round the corner. Only to find them there too.
More whoops. More cheering. More “You can do it”s.
Simultaneously beaming and blushing I wildly waved at them and picked up my pace in response to their cheers. I began to sense that maybe they weren’t going to let this go.
And my suspicions were confirmed: they tracked me the whole way through my route.
They found a small quiet road that ran parallel to the road I was running along and slowly cruised all the way down, with unrelenting support and applause. Really, it was every bit as cheesy as I’m making it sound. And every bit as great too.
At the end of the route, the kids darted out of the car and one of them said, “Mummy, you ran all that way. Wow!”
It wasn’t really that far, but I guess they’d never actually seen me run before. They’ve waved me off for a run and they’ve welcomed me back but they’ve never actually been physically with me as I’ve run. I think they were genuinely astonished that I could run that far. And given my aforementioned lack of exercise and excessive eating, so was I.
As I cooled down I began to realise that the whole crazy-cheering-on thing carried more significance than just the event itself.
This new job is an external marker of a longer journey I’ve been on, a journey of pursuing a dream, a vision and a call to work in the world of words; words that have the potential to change minds, hearts, actions and lives. I took my first step towards that vision almost eight years ago, when I first put pen to paper, or word to screen, and wrote my very first blog post.
And that journey hasn’t happened on my own. Years ago, when I was in the throes of looking after young children at home and Rich was travelling frequently, a friend gave me some wise advice: “Rich’s victories are your victories. Whenever he sees breakthrough, it’s a shared breakthrough; it belongs to you both.” I kept those words close to my heart; they were water for my weary soul on the days when Rich was halfway round the world and I’d crawl into bed immediately after I’d tucked up the last child into the land of nod.
And as I’ve taken the steps that have led to this job, Rich has cheered me on by laying his own life down. He’s shifted his working hours so that we can juggle childcare. He’s worked longer into the evenings and risen early to catch up on missed time. He’s whispered the “You can do this”s when I’ve felt like I can’t.
My victories are his victories. My breakthroughs are his breakthroughs.
As my family cheered me on from the car I genuinely felt like I was being cheered on for this new season. I’m not just an individual stepping into a new realm on my own. I’m sent, released, championed, and supported. That’s what family does, both blood and non-blood (I’ve had numerous ‘cheers’ in the form of words, messages, and emails from extended family and friends too).
What I didn’t realise, when I was running, was that my family hadn’t planned to follow me. They happened to see me on the route, and then Rich gave the kids a choice of whether or not they wanted to go and play in the park or continue to follow and cheer me on. Clearly, they chose the latter.
We always have a choice of whether or not we cheer others on. Sometimes playing in the park can feel like a whole lot more fun; it often takes selflessness and laying down of our own agenda to cheer others on.
Even more importantly than my crazy-wonderful family, I have the most incredible counsellor, the Spirit of Jesus, who lives in me. He is always by my side, whether I’m crawling, walking, running or soaring. When my legs are failing, when I want to give up, when I want to sit by the side of the road and cry, He is always that pacemaker, steadily driving alongside me, both cheering me on and challenging me to go further and stronger and deeper.
Drawing me closer to Him, that others might draw closer too.