I’m a runner. I haven’t always been, in fact until the past 5 years or so I would only run when something big was chasing me. I used to run in the cold thinking I would get warm faster, I learned quickly that wasn’t the case at all. I merely ran into the cold faster.
At the ripe old age of 38 I started running for exercise. My plan was to train and compete in a local race with a friend of mine. Only I was bit by the running bug and aside from some breaks I’ve been running ever since.
My running friend has two young children and it is so hard to run when you’re up half the night with baby and running all day chasing a toddler. (Why does running after a 2-year old never count as running?) She has not been able to run much in the past 18ish months.
We’ve recently begun running together. We’re each others motivation and kick in the pants. We push each other to get out there and do more, go faster, push harder.
On this morning’s run I pushed her to run “one more block” and then “now just keep running until we get across this street. Oh pick up the pace that pickup wants to turn here!” We stopped on the opposite street corner for a pair of seconds (literally!) before the light changed so we could cross that way.
My poor friend kept chanting “oh my” as if it was her new mantra. A man, sitting in his car at the light was watching us with a smile on his face. He wasn’t watching in a creepy way at all. As we got about even with his car he shouted to my friend, “You’re doing great!” And she was.
I’m sure hearing that man’s comment made her day. I still smile when I think of it.
Encouragement. It’s a free gift we can give to those around us. So why don’t we? Why are we so consumed with one-upping the everyone? Why can’t we put all that aside and reach out with a kind word to those we meet?
I’m not only talking about those people we know, my friend and I didn’t know the man who shouted encouragement this morning. I mean, why can’t we be encouraging to everyone we come in contact with? Is it so difficult?
Some might say they weren’t raised that way. They would say they weren’t encouraged as children so they don’t know how, or it’s awkward. And it is. Even if you have experienced encouragement. It takes guts to say something to someone you don’t know.
It takes guts, but it’s vital. We all need to hear we’re doing a good job. We need to know people value us as human beings.
We all have value, not because we’re so great on our own. But because we are created in the image of God. He valued us so much He sent His only Son, Jesus to die for us. If that doesn’t mean we have value, I don’t know what does.
We race through life with mounting weariness. Our legs feel like they are going to fall off if we take one more step. We feel we can’t possibly lift one more laundry basket, we can’t fix one more meal, we can’t write one more contract. We’re weary. We’re tired. And then someone shouts encouragement and we find the strength to shoulder on. We find new energy to run a few more laps, we find we can skip and dance for joy.
So let’s decide today that we’re going encourage someone around us today. It might be your husband, your wife, your kids, your parents, your neighbor or it might be the person standing next to you in line at the grocery store. Or maybe it will be someone running down the street whose legs are about to give out.