I’ve always been a BIG believer in encouragement and what it can do to the human spirit. I’ve seen firsthand what DIScouragement does and how long it takes to recover from it.
Last weekend was the marathon. It was the experience of a lifetime…and I was just a ‘walker’. I can’t imagine how much more the runners were feeling. Let me try to set the scene…
My walking-buddy and I arrived a little ‘late’ at 6:00. We wanted to get there earlier but between a buddy that got her times crossed and downtown traffic of all the participants making their way to the start…it was 6:15 by the time we got anywhere near the starting point. There were already thousands of people there under a fabulous dawn-lit sky. The sun rises just behind the memorial site and it’s as though God Himself is kissing the memorial good morning with the rays of His sunshine.
The participants all began to make their way to the back of the line to take our places, but at around this point the 168 second of silence took place and we all just stood solemnly as we remembered those we were walking to honor and to remember. We remembered that day, not so many years ago, and we remembered why we were here and what we were walking for…who we were walking in remembrance of.
The race started at 6:25 as they released the ‘wheeled’ participants, then the guns went off and the fastest of the racers started off and about 15 minutes later my buddy and I were finally crossing the starting line. The sky was a bit overcast at first with those early morning clouds. By the time we got to mile one, where the first crowd waited to cheer us on, the clouds had cleared and a pristine blue sky blanketed our trail. I couldn’t help but feel the joy that was bubbling off these early morning cheerleaders and was thankful they were there at mile one to push us on our way.
The next thing I knew we were walking up Lincoln Avenue and I could see the Capital building ahead. As we made our way to the Capital complex my buddy pointed out the 168 trees that were planted along that campus several years ago to commemorate those lives lost in the bombing. They’re growing now, big and strong, reminding us to push on and live our lives with purpose and meaning.
We walked through a beautiful downtown neighborhood where neighbors were out in full force to cheer and champion our cause. There was a yard with 168 pinwheels stuck into the ground and neighbors handing out little candy bars and water and pretzels to push us towards our goal.
As we made the next turn, heading back south towards our goal at mile 8, there was a huge group from one of the larger local oil companies that were so enthusiastic I got goose bumps. It was so exciting to see so many people supporting this marathon and each of the participants that had come out to complete this journey. The final 5 miles were just lined with people cheering and handing out sustenance to those of us who were beginning to see the physical effects of the journey.
By the time we were within 1 mile of our finish, I was feeling really drained…not my spirit, but my physical body was just about done. I had only been drinking water at the stops, no power-aide and my body was in need of electrolytes. At one of the final ‘watering stops’ I grabbed some power-aide (YUCK, never have liked that stuff) took a few swigs and continued on.
When we made the final turn, and I could see the finish line and all the people along the street, I felt so much pride in the accomplishment…and so much awe for the support…and so many tears for those we were remembering, it was a moment I’ll never forget.
I crossed the finish line and made my way through the medal distribution and grabbed some snacks and water and made my way to my husband and our ‘supporters’ and then I thought I would just pass out.
I realized later as I thought about this day, that without the encouragement we received I honestly probably wouldn’t have made it to the finish line. Our bodies are amazing on their own, but add to that the chemicals produced in our brain when our bodies are ready to give up…and we have so much more to give.
Thank you God for creating us with intention and with meaning. Thank you for giving us abilities and for making us stronger through encouragement. Help us each to remember that words have the power of life and death…not matter how big or small.
Hebrews 3:13 (one of my personal favorites)
"But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."
…and there goes the first thing from my Bucket List.