What Winning Looks Like

Recently I took the girls shoe shopping.  All 4 of them together.  Let me point out that I hate shopping.  I’m even less fond of shopping with children in tow.  My idea of shopping is getting in, getting what I need at the lowest price possible, and getting out…preferably all at one place.  My girlfriends know this about me.  If you want to have a cup of coffee, enjoy a meal, go to a movie, have a Bible study, pray together, even exercise, then I’m your girl.  But shopping is not my thing.

So there I was with all the girls, including Cadence.  Readers know she is profoundly autistic and a creature of habit.  I don’t take her shoe shopping.  I buy her shoes and bring them home for her to try on and then go back to the store, if need be, to exchange them.  This is how we shoe shop for Cadence, otherwise she might reorganize the shoe store while we are there and run out the door with a pair of pink fluffy slippers that are 4 sizes too small because they catch her eye.  Also, she has no patience for waiting while the other girls are looking.  Waiting equals trouble with a Capital “T”.

I’m not sure how I ended up at the shoe store with these 4 ladies of mine, and yet there I was. I asked Cadence to sit down and take off her shoes and she did.  So far so good.  I was feeling hopeful.  Then I asked her to try on MORE THAN ONE PAIR of shoes.  She complied.  We were approaching a minor miracle, friends.  Then I have her put her shoes back on and she doesn’t hesitate.  The stars must have all aligned.  Then she WAITED  while I helped the other girls try on shoes and patiently held her new shoes in her lap.  She didn’t roam around the store or try to take off with 15 pair of socks or shred all the price tags into tiny pieces on the floor.. Friends, the universe and all the heavenly hosts smiled on us that day.

We walked out of the store with new shoes for everyone and were there for a total of 17 1/2 minutes.  I felt like I could do anything.  That, my friends, is what winning looks like.    Winning is seeing your child take a step towards independence.  Winning is being able to accomplish something that you have found a struggle in the past. Winning doesn’t have to be a gold medal.  Winning can be a stress free pair of shoes.  Don’t ever shrug off the victories.  Celebrate them.  Celebrate the 2 pounds lost.  Celebrate the folded laundry after tackling Mt. Washmore.  Celebrate an uninterrupted night of sleep.  Celebrate the papers that finally got filed off your desk.

Sometimes we think that winning looks like this:


We think that the only way to win or be victorious is in a crazy dramatic way.  We think that victories are made of grand gestures.  But I think giant victories are the sum of a lot of small victories along the way.  And as followers of Christ, any victory, no matter how small, is a testament of God’s grace.  As I think about the things that Cadence has been able to accomplish this past year I don’t see giant accomplishments.  I see her:

  • Brushing her hair for the first time completely on her own, unprompted.
  • Learning to make a cup of hot chocolate with the Keurig.
  • Packing up leftovers from supper and putting them in her lunchbox for the next day.
  • Shoe shopping without drama or stress.
  • Rinsing her oatmeal bowl out after breakfast.

These may not be giant, but they are astounding just the same.  They are a testament to God’s unending grace in our lives that never, ever gives up on us.  They are proof that it’s never over until we cross the finish line into Heaven.  These steps, the journey, the small victories, these are the stuff of life.

We have the mentality that we have to go big or go home, but I think the most important thing is that we just. keep. on. going.  Sometimes I look around at my life and I get bogged down by the mundane and feel like I’m failing because I haven’t accomplished something huge.  But Cadence reminds me that winning doesn’t have to be huge.  Winning is about not giving up.  It’s about trying and then trying again and then trying again until one day it works.

Winning might be having a piece of watermelon instead of a piece of cake.  It might mean exercising for the first time in years.  Winning might be saving some money out of your paycheck each week for an emergency fund.  It could mean not arguing with someone who rubs you the wrong way.  Winning could be getting up 15 minutes early to have some quiet time with God before you start your day.

Winning, put simply, is being successful.  And if we take a real good look around we will find lots of ways that we are successful.  Celebrate the victories.  You’ve worked hard for them and no matter how small they are….they really aren’t small at all.