The Power of Two

I have been thinking a lot about how much easier things are when you have someone by your side. Somehow in their presence, we can then find in us the extra stamina we need to finish the job or complete the task. Their “being there” makes all the difference.

Today I watched our daughter run in her first ever cross-country race. The day was hot and humid and the grass trodden Virginia field boasted warm air, people, dogs, cars and waiting ambulances…just in case a runner “goes down”.

I was able to follow the racers by criss-crossing the field and intersecting the runners as they emerged for short intervals from the dense woods that shouldered the open field. Parents and coaches traced the sideline offering words punctuated with heartfelt emotion in an effort to move heat-weary runners up the approaching hill or down a long, protracted decline.

The last leg of the race was brutal as the sun reached its 12 noon zenith.

It was there I caught my daughter running haltingly up the final incline toward the finish. She glanced toward me as I delivered words of encouragement across the dividing tape. Then I saw in her faltering expression…one that said…I can’t do this…I can’t go even one step further…I am going to give up….

My next impulse was just that…an impulse to join her in completing the journey. I simply began to run alongside the boundary separating runner and audience…dodging onlookers and fixing my gaze and words only on her.

Running together, side by side her pace evened out until she glimpsed the gateway to the finish. Then her stride lengthened. Her gait increased and she finished the race.

For those few seconds “the power of two” brought the success to one. Running in tandem for those critical moments delivered the needed encouragement to finish what she intended all along…but now was able to complete.

How often in each of our lives when out of shear exhaustion or seasons of overwhelming challenge do our eyes look desperately into the crowd of onlookers and hope to catch the gaze of one who will both understand and act in our behalf? When we are fortunate enough to find that one…eyes fix and a journey of two begins until the finish line comes into view and the last strides bring the joy of victory.