A couple of weeks ago, my oldest son–who is currently in “A” School at the start of his Navy career, had a Physical Fitness test that he absolutely had to pass.
I knew he was nervous about the test. Without the daily discipline that Boot Camp gave him of routine workouts and runs and marches, he has struggled to discipline himself to keep up the momentum. Combine that with the stress of studying for his classes, and he did not feel physically prepared for this test.
And, he had to pass it.
I pray for my crew every morning; but only rarely do I find myself praying throughout the day. That’s probably a fault of mine–but it stems from how seriously I view and guard prayer time in the early morning hours. Or, maybe it is just one of my many flaws, that I do not stay in a constant state of prayer. Anyhow…
…on that day, as my boy came to my mind, I did pray. Real prayer. Earnest prayer. That he would dig down deep and find the gumption to push himself to the finish line and pass this test.
As the day wore on and no texts were coming from him, I was a bit concerned, but not overly…but I did find myself checking my phone frequently.
And, finally, around 1:00am (yes, you read that right. Such texts from him are not unusual), he sent word–he passed.
The next day, he told me how he passed.
You see, it was the run that he was most worried about–making the run in the time limit. He wasn’t sure he could do it, and he was psyching himself out about it, which was making it worse.
And, sure enough, as he was about 1/2 of the way through, he looked at the scoreboard on the wall that held his name and his pace, and he knew he wasn’t going to make it. And his heart sank.
And, he almost gave up.
He slowed down to barely a trot and almost quit running all together–but then the game changed.
Because, from across the gym floor, the commander (or some high-ranking official; I’ll have to ask my boy what the rank was–whoever it was, it was someone way, way, way above my boy’s pay grade) took off his jacket and started jogging toward him.
My boy first thought he was in trouble for something. But that wasn’t the case at all. No, instead this commander, or officer of some type, started jogging right beside my boy.
He didn’t say much other than “Let’s go, sailor.” and he started pushing the pace. And my boy responded. And the officer stayed right with him, the rest of the run.
And my boy passed. In fact, not only did he pass, but he passed with one of the best times he has had for his runs, since joining the Navy.
That officer didn’t have to say much. He didn’t have to yell at my boy, or deliver a swift kick to him. He didn’t even have to beg or plead with him, or cheer him on.
He just was there, right beside him, every step of the way.
And, don’t we all need that, to some extent?
Sometimes we don’t need words. Or lectures, or kicks, or even cheers. Sometimes we just need to know that we are not alone.
And, that there is someone who is willing to run beside us.
See, here’s the thing, too–my boy greatly looks up to this officer. He has huge respect for him. And, in those moments that, that officer chose to run beside him, my boy felt like he could conquer anything. Even the hard stuff.
There was no way he was going to stop running.
We all need to remember that.
We need to remember that each of us have someone in our lives, that need us to run beside them. They don’t necessarily need to hear cheers, or lectures, or admonishment, or kicks. Although, there are times when all of those are appropriate. And, needed, I suppose.
But sometimes they just need to know that we are there. That we’ve not abandoned. That we see, we know, we are keeping stride, and that we are not giving up on them.
Yes, my boy passed that test. But, more importantly, he knew in those moments that this officer was in his corner.
And that has given him tremendous courage. Even today, weeks later.
I want to be the kind of person that will run beside those who are hurting, or beside those who are joyful, or beside those who are weary. I want to be the kind of person who matches them step for step, so they do not experience that horrible dark suffocating of alone-ness. I want to be the kind of person who does not abandon, does not preach, does not lecture, does not kick–unless those are things that I am called to do for a specific reason.
And, only when I have earned the right to do so….by also being willing to run right next to my friend.