In the Army, we used to run every where. And, to help myself improve, I ran in my off time. I got to where I could run forever. Every week on Friday I would run ten miles at just below a sprint just to feel the wind in my face and see the canyons, the woodlands surrounding Fort Ord, California. I ran alone with no thought of showing off or impressing anyone. I just wanted to run.
Every Wednesday my unit would do the brigade run. A simple, rectangular, two mile loop that started and ended at Light Fighter Field, the seeming center of my universe at the time. You did not want to fall out, quit, on this run. It was sure to make your life, and the life of many others, miserable if you did. Seems simple enough for guys who are probably in the best shape of their lives and easily in better shape than ninety per cent of their civilian contemporaries. One problem. Just one difficulty to overcome.
The course ran in a slight decline from Light Fighter Field north. You then came to an intersection where you would turn right and run along a fairly level portion to the next crossroads. At that time you would turn right again and hit…..the Wall. That turn became insurmountable for many because the Wall was a steep incline for about another half mile. It hit you hard at a point where you weren’t really warmed up yet, hadn’t yet hit your groove. No one had been able to focus or watch their breathing, find a comfortable pace. And, the pace was set by the brigade commander anyway (a more sadistic, psychotic, arrogant man I have never met). By that point in the run, most were wondering how they could keep up on level ground. Then a hill comes up, an obstacle, something that makes your lungs burn and your eyes water. And the pace didn’t slow down.
I’ve been thinking about the Wall lately. I seem to be running and hardly knowing what’s coming next. Still don’t feel like I’m in my groove, or that my pace is set. And life just seems to be driving me into the ground. Life is just happening and I can’t get any control over it. And then I hit a wall. The difficulties I’ve been facing are nothing to the hell I find myself in. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it before and I sure don’t know what I’m going to do now. And I can’t slow down enough to consider any options.
I first tried to beat the Wall by putting my head down, attack the Wall, strength and determination. I tried falling out, quitting with those that were around me. The thing that saved me, besides just going through it over and over, disciplining my body and mind to face the problem. The one thing that helped the most was looking around. I would look at the sunrise, the beauty of the trees that surrounded me, the glistening of light on the dew drops. I looked at the guys that were with me, saw their pain and fatigue and wanted to be part of helping them. So I shouted encouragement. I whispered, “you can do it.” I took my eyes off my own pain and discouragement and sought to ease theirs.
I feel beat up right now. I do not know where to turn and can not find peace. Father, help me to be grateful for all that you’ve given. And help me to take my eyes off me and find those that I can encourage, lift up.
Maybe we can beat the Wall together.