Weary Warrior

Have you ever felt like it’s all too much? Like the preparation, the practice, the perseverance fall short – drowned out by the pain? Sometimes even when we KNOW that we’re capable, courageous, and called, we listen to the lies that whisper can’t. We dream of giving up more than we dream of finishing strong. We long for quiet surrender instead of bold resolution. We push away the people who could strengthen us, seeking isolation instead of determination. We forget what we’re made of.

I know a boy made of fire and freedom. He is laughter, hard work, and witty-brilliance wrapped up in strength, and he rides through life like a wild stallion, carried away on bare feet with his wind-blown mane flowing behind. He brings enthusiasm and life to everything he does. He’s eager to spread joy, and quick to offer help,  but just like all of us, sometimes he hits a wall and needs a hand.

He felt the weight of weariness this weekend as he and his fellow warriors charged into battle.

His body was strong, his training – proven and intentional, and his team – tightly-woven: a recipe for success. The stampede thinned and settled as the first 800 meters of the race began to bleed into the next stretch of endurance. He and his team quickly saw that their pack would need to divide. There is strength in numbers and sometimes the pack prevails, but sometimes it must be each man for himself. The plan was for him to fall into a smaller pack with his brother and friend, but in the fading, in the pounding of the feet, in the weariness of heart, he lost his fire. He lost his determination, and he breathed deceit to his friend in an effort to send him on, “I’ve got it,” he lied. “You can go ahead.”

In that moment, my boy wanted nothing more than to be left alone. He wanted to give in, give up, but his teammate refused to leave his side. “I need you to go,” he encouraged, with grit, pushing him forward with words. “I need you up there,” he said, pressing him toward the older brother just ahead. This was the teammate who led them into battle from the moment the gun fired, leaning into the race, carving out a path for his men. This was a kid who could have gone on and focused on his own success, but he saw the bigger picture. He saw a teammate struggling. He saw the need, and he silenced the lie.

He selflessly set aside his own race, his own time, his own personal gain because he saw his teammate falling back, slipping into surrender, and he knew the boy was made of fire and freedom and just needed to be reminded. When words were not enough, he didn’t stop. He pressed in. He literally took his own hand, his own strength, and he propelled his teammate on through the battle. His actions declared, You are better than this! and somewhere deep inside, my boy took hold of the message and believed it. And he ran. He needed to be called out of the darkness, to be reminded that it was about more than just him. There was a team battling WITH him, and they NEEDED him to press on. And he did.

Have you ever felt like it’s all too much? Don’t. Give. Up. Whether we are in a physical battle, a mental fight, or spiritual warfare, we have to be reminded we’re not alone. We all need that friend, that colleague, that family member, that teammate who is willing to lay aside their own race to bolster us through. We need a firm hand on our backs, driving us forward.

Be the hand. Be the warrior-runner who fights with a military-mindset saying “No man left behind”. Be the one who will press courage into the heart of another. Be the piercing eyes that expose the truth behind the lies, the eyes that see the need. Be the friend who says “No one gives up today. Not on my watch!” Be the strength that someone else needs and the reminder of what they’re made of because at some point in the race, you are going to need someone to do the same for you. This race is exhausting…this human race. The battle is disheartening at times, and pressing on can seem impossible…until there is more than words…until there is a firm hand reminding you who you are. Be the hand.

Photo credit: Rebecca Thiessen, image 1; Jesse Fields, images 2-4

The inspiration: Brett Pollock and Bo Davis. Thank you, Brett!