Today I spectated as my friend ran in a half-marathon. For a period of time, my family and I were snuggled up tight against the retaining fence that kept the crowd and the runners separated. We were literally within 50 feet of the finish line. *Some 20,000 people were in attendance* While I searched the crowd to catch a glimpse of my buddy coming to the finish line, I began to notice the wide range of people that were coming down the lane. Every shape, size, color, physical ability and physical limitation made it’s way toward me.
The one thing they all had in common was focus. Their concentration spoke volumes to me. They were so close to their goal, they could taste it and I could literally feel their triumph. I found myself spontaneously cheering and high-fiving and crying! There were runners with artificial limbs and there were runners with gnarled knees. Some had wrapped body parts and some ran in some type of limping fashion. There was the Marine running with a massive pack on his back (who the crowd went crazy for) and the elderly men and women who were pumping their way through like it ain’t no thang.
I could not contain my fill-up of inspiration! I had no idea what this crowded race would be like and I immediately concluded how incredibly fortunate I was to bear witness to the unseen warriors of this world. Although this “race” was a true testament to physical ability, it was also a testament to dedication and fortitude. For the 45 minutes I stood at that fence (which seemed like 30 seconds), I was in absolute awe… Actually… I still am…
Let us all imagine for a moment all unseen spiritual warriors of life that we don’t get the opportunity to bear witness too. The walking wounded that make their way through life every day holding onto faith rather than fear. The ones who choose victory over victimhood when victimhood could be far more easier. The betrayed who choose to trust again. The armored who worked hard to open their hearts again. The sad that learned to find joy in the world again. The misplaced that eventually located “home” again.
They are all around us, but most of the time we are so consumed with ourselves, we miss it.
I see the hero in my mother every day. She has had cancer for over 10 years and brings inspiration and hope to her chemo center every time she is present. She chooses not victimhood, but to use her experience to share her love where it is needed so badly. She often comes home with a sweet story of an exchange with another patient that I couldn’t even begin to aptly portray here.
Although I do get inspired by books, articles and posts, I also get inspired by all the beautiful life warriors right before my eyes. I see them in my family, my friends, my clients, in the media and even in the stories I overhear at some public place or another. Heroes are EVERYWHERE and I know if I had the opportunity to talk to you, you’d be one too!
I believe when we all start to view our brothers and sisters as courageous warriors, this world will change. It’s time to look upon our neighbors with compassion rather than contempt – to take a moment to see their struggles and have compassion for their experience rather than being so wrapped up in our own. To celebrate how far they’ve come rather than how far they still have to go.
This world is full of A-mazing people!
And YOU are one of them!
Never, ever underestimate what you have overcome, because I know you are my hero too.