The morning was bright and crisp. The house was surprisingly quiet so I decided to sneak away for a run. I use the word run lightly. It’s actually more of a trot, or a light jog. I could hardly tell you I am actually running. But my feet are moving forward, and I am covering some ground so it’s a start. Even though I may be slow, the scenery is beautiful and it’s always good for my brain just to be out and moving. I took my usual route, down past the park, by the pond filled with turtles, ducks and geese. Then I swung back up the hill to go towards home. On this particular morning I chose not to run with music so I could hear the birds and really feel the outdoors. Spring is healing for me. The sun, the fresh air; I feel most alive when I am outside. So I slowly made my way through my route, accepting that I was slow and steady, enjoying the journey not the finish line. It felt good to not worry about my time or even the distance I had run. I wasn’t trying to beat anyone else, I was simply running. And enjoying it.
As I began to head home and started up the hill I noticed a woman from the neighborhood running towards me. Her headphones were in her ears so I chose not to engage in much conversation. She too seemed to be out enjoying the beginnings of a beautiful day. Then something funny happened, as we drew near to one another she pulled one of her AirPods out, looked at me and simply said this, “good job on the hill”, She smiled and then put her headphones back in and continued on her way. That was it. One simple phrase. It was kind, hopeful, encouraging. She wouldn’t have had to say anything, that would have been acceptable, but she did. It impacted me so much all day. Not because I was crushing that hill, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t. But I was running it, slowly, but running it nonetheless. What’s stuck with me was that she did not have to encourage me, she chose to. She saw a moment and took it. A few words. Simple. Profound.
This made me wonder how often I take the opportunity to encourage others. It reminded me how important and life-giving it is to build others up. Especially these days. People seem scared and withdrawn. We can’t see faces and smiles behind masks. Oftentimes others will move to the other side of the street when I approach as if I am dangerous. But today, I was shown kindness and encouragement. And I know, without a doubt, I want to be one who builds others up. Not because I should, but because I can.
It’s Monday, an easy day to feel tired and discouraged, let’s choose to share some simple words of encouragement with those around us. Not because they accomplish something, not when they impress us. How about when they are just being themselves. Let’s encourage one another not because we should, because we can!
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing”.
1 Thessalonians 5:11