I race to reach the finish line that seems so far away. I can faintly see the line that I am to cross- signaling the end of this tedious fight against muscle and pavement.
Struggling to finish, I pound. Flesh to earth- earth to flesh- I pound.
I can feel my second wind coming over me. I can finish, I know I can. I can hear the weight of my body strike the asphalt. I can feel the impact pulsing through my body with each step. And then it hits me, like a bludgeon to the head- a dagger to my heart.
And I stop.
My opponents race past me. I can hear their labored breathing- I can smell their perseverance. My world falls silent as I feel myself losing this race that I had been trying so hard to win. Without my permission, my body turns on its heel. I am suddenly facing the starting line.
I feel myself moving over into the slow lane- and my feet pick up pace, but only to a brisk walk. I cannot prompt my body to turn around nor can I tell it to go faster.
RUN, I tell myself.
But my thoughts are no longer traveling to my limbs. Though I am moving slower, my heart is beating faster- as if it is the one now in control.
I continue to walk.
My feet stop at the halfway point between the start of the race and the finish line. A few feet away, I spot something that looks familiar. As I approach it, I am suddenly filled with anxiety- realizing what it is.
How did I drop that along the way? Confused, I can’t think of anything else to do but to drop it back into my pocket. A few feet ahead of me, I spot something that looks a lot like something else that I might have lost along the way. Recognizing it as another possession of mine, I bend down to scoop it into my hands- wondering how on Earth I had managed to lose it.
I place it, too, into my pocket. I start to notice that the ground is littered with things that I used to own-things that I used to TREASURE.
My FAITH, my DREAMS, my DIGNITY… my JOY.
I had lost them all on my quest to VICTORY and I hadn’t even noticed. Feverishly, I rushed to pick them up from the ground- dusting them off and placing them back into my pocket.
Back into my heart.
Back into my soul.
Just then, I see a stranger racing toward me. I didn’t recognize his face, but everything about him was oddly familiar. His stride was perfect. His form, impeccable. I stared as he approached me, baton in hand. Instinctively, I turn and stand ready to receive his hand-off and when it happened, it was like …I floated….
…Past all of my opponents who had burned out just before the finish line. Past all of the ailments that had plagued my body before. I had restored my mind and body to that of a champion and I had won my race.
There are times when we compromise ourselves- when we leave bits of ourselves behind and still we expect to be able to win the race of our lives. We are given tools that help us to overcome hardship- to stand our ground when time gets tough. When we discount those tools- when we abuse them or choose to leave them by the wayside, there is no wonder why we suffer.
There is no wonder why we do not have enough strength to make it to the finish line. But when we DO take advantage of the help that we are given, there is undoubtedly more help to come. Second chances and sometimes even perfect companions arrive to make the race unbelievably easier to conquer. Have you looked around lately? What have you dropped alongside the path?