Last night I ran in the Fun Run (although I didn't run backwards the entire way, as I'm doing in this picture). The Fun Run happens every year before Portland's Starlight Parade. I ran with my husband and in laws and a couple friends--and about 2000 other people! It's only 3.1 miles and lots of people dress up for it in crazy costumes. Since it's right before the parade there are a bunch of people lining the streets, and we joked about how nice it was for all of them to turn out to see us run.
It made me think about how important encouragement is. Running 3 miles last night was a piece of cake, when for the last several days as I've been "training" for this run and practicing running the three miles it's been hard work, tiring, draining, exhausting. I'm not even an extrovert, but having all those people there, the energy of the crowd, all the random stuff to look at, and all the other people there running made it so much easier and more exciting. It did feel like we all had our own personal fan club, because people would yell from the sidelines, "Great job! Keep it up! You can do it!" Little kids crowded the edges of the streets wanting runners to give them a high-five as they went by.
I was thinking about this as a metaphor for life and faith. Even though no one can make the running any easier physically--I still have to propel myself from one end of the race to the other, and I'm the only one who can live my life--somehow it's easier when there are others there cheering, noticing the effort I'm putting in, yelling out encouragements. There's an energy and a sense of joy that comes from feeling suported.
What if we intentionally did this in our lives for others, and what if we as communities (whether families, church communities, schools, work places, etc.) would focus on intentionally encouraging one another? What if we shared the load of this race of life by cheering one another on, taking special notice, showing up to encourage those we don't even know? Wouldn't it be a much better world? Wouldn't it be much easier to run well the race before us?