It was the first time, as a parent, I was watching one of my kids compete in a sporting event. It was a cross country meet, and my daughter is in kindergarten; so it was more an opportunity to get the kids of the school out there in the park running around for a bit. I assure you that my daughter had no clue she was racing anyone else. For her, it was just fun; that quickly turned into confusion as she was required to run for much longer than she would have preferred while a bunch of people were looking at her. She gave up after the first 50 yards, with a half mile left to go.
The event took place in the park, and there were parents and families milling all over. Winding it’s way through the trees was a white line spray painted into the grass. The course was somewhere around a half mile long. The kids from all sorts of elementary schools were hemmed into a corral on the far end of the park, marked out with colorful ribbon. They released the kids by age, starting first with my daughter’s group.
By the time I saw Emilee, about a quarter of the way through the course, she was walking. She just didn’t want to run. She was dead last. She saw her mom first, who had run over to her, yelling and waving her arms in encouragement.
“Go Emilee! Go! You can do it! Run!”
I saw the look of recognition flash in Emilee’s face, and then a big smile lit across her face. And she started running. Fast.
I was yelling too. “Go Emilee go! You’re doing great! Run fast! Run fast!” And as she passed me, I saw that running had become delightful to her. She wanted to run fast, now that my wife and I were there cheering for her.
After she went by me, I jogged over to the other side of the track, at about the ¾ mark of the course. I was yelling for her, cheering; and I was surprised at how emotional a moment it was for me. Not sure I can describe why, but I was almost moved to tears. I was shouting encouragement to her, and she was just tearing down that white line through the park. She was passing other kids, and her smile was huge! Her face was red by that time, and I was embroiled in seeing her little arms and legs pump with eagerness as she ran.
She got all the way through the race, and I came and congratulated her when she was back in the colorful corral. She loved it.
I think she loved it because there were people cheering for her.
Isn’t life like that? Don’t we need encouragement in order to run our race with flair and passion?
We Christians ought to be encouraging. It is so effective, and it costs so little. All we have to do is take notice of other people, especially those who are struggling in life, and come alongside speaking encouragement. What a profound impact we could make! And, it could be the kind of difference that changes the world.
Let’s get to it. Let us start taking notice of our friends, family, and even strangers, and deciding to speak encouraging words to them; so that they will be strengthened for a life of success and excellence.