by Joanie Butman
The importance of fellowship was brought home to me unexpectedly this summer. I went out for my morning run forgetting the annual “Around-the-Cape” race was in progress. Part of the course coincided with my usual route. When I came up the hill and made the turn I found myself not only in the race, but near the front! I had two choices: gracefully sneak off a side street or just tag along for fun. Athleticism is not my forte and the possibility of ever running in a marathon is smaller than getting back into a size 6 in this lifetime. So, I decided to enjoy the moment. I have never run better. With people cheering and clapping and the other runners to inspire me, I could have gone much longer than I did. They didn’t even know my name, yet they came out to cheer, encourage and hydrate total strangers. I’m sure everyone was amazed that after 12 miles I had yet to break a sweat and was clearly the only one smiling. After leaving them at my turnoff, I noticed my pace slowed significantly and with no encouragement from the sidelines, I could have easily walked the rest of the way exhausted by my brief moment of glory. The funniest part about it is that later in the day, someone on the beach came over to congratulate me for running in the race. “I had no idea you were an athlete.” Hah, with good reason. Now, I could have just thanked her and feigned humility but I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud and sharing the story.
Support, encouragement or someone coming up beside you makes the burdens of life lighter and the joys that much sweeter. It’s just a fact of life. I suppose you could look at this book project in the same light. The race is life, and we are all runners. Why wouldn’t we want to encourage and cheer each other on? We don’t need to know anyone’s name to offer our own stories as gifts of comfort or encouragement for someone walking the same road. It’s humanity at its best. We all enter the race alone but that isn’t meant to be a permanent condition. The people who run alongside us will vary day-to-day. Sometimes we will know them, sometimes we won’t.
We all have the ability to encourage and inspire. It could be as simple as a smile. No grand gestures, no expensive gifts, no credit – just helping or encouraging someone else for the pure joy of it. That’s what makes for a good day and a great life! As always, it’s your choice.