Courage Musts

Since he had turned his back upon the fight his fears had been wondrously magnified. Death about to thrust him between the shoulder blades was far more dreadful than death about to smite him between the eyes. When he thought of it later, he conceived the impression that it is better to view the appalling than to be merely within hearing. The noises of the battle were like stones; he believed himself liable to be crushed.

The Red Badge of Courage, chapter 6

To experience victory, hard must be faced.

To defeat fears, eyes must gaze forward.

To minimize dread, fight must be embraced.

To remain steadfast, battle must be accepted.

To resist surrender, better must be pursued.

To foster courage, will must be resolved.

Photo by Kat J on Unsplash

6 Lessons from the Blind Runner


The pic above is a screenshot of the results from the race I ran in PA yesterday. If you know me at all, you know I can analyze the heck out of a list like this. Don’t get me started. Actually, it’s too late anyway…did that hours ago.

Before you focus on my name and placement, let your mind look over the rest of the results. One detail that glares at you is that finishers 2&3 crossed the finish line at the same time. Not unusual in the running world, particularly in smaller, local races. Usually that means family members or running friends ran together, literally-they stayed together, and probably chatted, the entire course length. Not my thing, but it is a lot of people’s.

But without being there yesterday, you wouldn’t know there is more to Adam and Brandon’s story than they ran a race together. And I can’t say I know a whole lot more than that since I didn’t talk to them. But I did watch them. I simply had to. Why? Because one of them wasn’t going to start, let alone finish, without the other one. Brandon was blind, and Adam was his guide.

In a much bigger race I once saw such a team at the start line, but I never saw them on the course after we started. This second opportunity was different. Because of the layout of the course, we passed each other twice. In all, I had four chances to watch them do their thing. And do it they did.

So instead of just analyzing these results yesterday, I thought about what I could learn from these two men. Apparently, quite a bit. Pause and think about them separately. What would it take for you, 17 years old and blind, to attempt to run a half marathon? And if you can see, what would it take for you to guide a blind runner any distance, let alone 13.1 miles? Again, I didn’t talk to them, so I’m guessing what the answers are to these questions.

For the rest of this post, here are the lessons I take away from putting myself in Brandon’s shoes-which seems incredibly assuming.

  • Trust

This has to be the most important thing they both have in their work together. Adam doesn’t have a chance if Brandon doesn’t put his trust in him.

  • Courage

Maybe Brandon’s not seen his entire life and only knows what he knows, but how else can you define his willingness to step up to the start line without declaring courage. I met another runner running his first half yesterday, and he needed some courage. But he could see and was old enough to be Brandon’s dad. Courage was on full display.

  • Joy

Brandon’s face before, during, and after the race exuded joy. Fear, not present. Doubt, defeated. He even ran a recovery mile or so afterwards with that same joyful countenance.

  • Fulfillment

Brandon knew he belonged with everyone else. He experienced the same fulfillment as all finishers do when they cross that line. He did not have to feel or think less than.

  • Exemplify

If I were to ask Brandon what he hopes others learn from seeing him run, I’d put money on his answer being something like, “I hope they see what’s possible. I hope they learn to trust, have courage, pursue joy, and know fulfillment.” (Ok…those are my words, but you get the point.)

  • Normalcy

We are all normal as God created us. Embrace it. Be the normal God made you to be.

To be honest, in life we’re all blind runners. Wouldn’t you agree? So let’s thank God for all the Brandons who show up in our lives to remind us.

How to Respond to Injury

Recently I was given an audio copy of Bravo Two Zero, a military memoir by Andy McNab. McNab was the sergeant of an eight-member SAS regiment given a mission to Iraq, January 1991.

Today I listened to their situation after they were compromised and survived a fierce fight. As Sergeant McNab led them on an all-night evasive trek, he realized one of his men, Vince, was injured. Here’s a clip of McNab’s reaction:

The whole of the game is to get everyone over the border. Vince clearly had an injury. We’d have to do all our planning and considerations around the fact that he was in trouble. None of this, “No, it’s okay, Skipper, I’ll go on.” Because if you try to play the He-Man and don’t inform people of your injuries, you’re endangering the whole patrol. If they’re not aware of your problem, they can’t adjust the plan or cater for future eventualities. If you make sure people know that you’re injured, they can plan around it.

We can be part of various teams in life where we get injured do to fierce fighting-on the job, at the family reunion, in the stock market, even at church. And what Sergeant McNab said about Vince in Iraq is true for all the injured people and those on their teams.

  • The injured have to speak up. Otherwise, the whole team is in trouble. And they may be completely unaware unless the injured person speaks up.
  • The team has a responsibility to adjust. The whole of the game is to get everyone to the destination together, to stay unified in fulfilling the mission.  If that means slowing down to tweak the plan, then accept and commit to it. For the sake of the team and the mission, take the time to listen and adjust.

Playing the He-Man weakens the team. Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps disrespects and distances your team. 

Are you injured? What is your injury? Which team member needs to know? Be courageous and let the tweaking begin.