I’m not one to cry at track meets.
So I’m a volunteer assistant track coach for the Landsharks Club – it’s a group of kindergartners through fifth graders, running their little hearts out. I use the word “coach” very loosely. I just stand by the track and use all those pithy coach sayings I’ve learned as a spectator.
You’ve got this!
You’re a champ!
I even throw in a few Yoda-esque cheers I came up with on my own:
Like a Cheetah you are!
You’re running even faster than the wind, you little runner person, you!
But I digress.
So a scene unfolded last Sunday that continues to stay with me. Two runners came around the bend, one on the track, one running beside her on the grass.
I happened to know these two runners. Ethan and Millie. These two precious souls have gone through tremendous heartache. Within the last year they lost their dad. He was a kind and loving man, an amazing dad… and he was young, in his prime. When he left this earth, he left behind his lovely wife and two young children. The grief remains deep and profound, without words to define its depth.
As those two children came closer, I could see that Ethan was running in the grass alongside his younger sister. He was cheering her on every step of the way. “Keep going! Don’t give up! You can do it” She didn’t take a step of the run on her own – he was right there next to her the whole way.
I felt God’s smile. In living color, right there during an elementary school track meet, I got to see two children live authentic love in the thick of hardship. Ethan ran right beside his sister. He ran the entire race WITH her. He encouraged her, cheered her on, loved her. He wasn’t screaming at her from the finish line or giving her running tips along the way. He just matched her stride for stride and saw her through to the end of the race.
My heart was so touched. That’s it! That’s how we should live. That’s what it looks like. When a friend is hurting, when a family member is struggling, when unexpected loss pulls the rug out from underneath someone we love – we don’t have to have all the right words, we don’t have to preach the best advice. Just coming alongside, matching stride for stride and walking a fellow sojourner to the finish line…that’s what it’s all about.
It was wild, because the tears came again when just a few races later, I watched Millie do the same thing with another runner. She had received, soaked in, walked it out – and was now pouring into another runner on the track.
So much for my pithy coach sayings. I was completely out-coached by love in action.
Kids, lead the way.
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