Eight miles was the plan and I left my house, turned on my music, and decided to be grateful for what I had instead of what was missed. As my feet crunched the gravel from the trail, as the wind blew through my hair, as I watched the people also out for their morning runs and walks, my heart was filled with joy, mile after mile.
And so, in my perkiness, I decided to spread my joy. No matter who passed me (I knew not a single one of them, save the last), I greeted them with a smile, a "Hello!", or "Good morning!"
And do you know that not everyone enjoyed my radiant joy? The Saturday morning that dawned with brilliant weather, there were still grumpy people.
Normally, on a regular, not-so-cognizant-of-my-joy kind of day, I would be offended when people didn't smile back, return my chipper "Good morning!," or at least meet my gaze. But this day, it didn't matter. If someone wasn't in the mood to receive, I didn't let it hinder me from continuing to greet the next person in my path. I kept spreading my joy. I kept smiling. I kept encouraging.
And then, about mile 6, I started to get tired. The clouds began to dissipate. The temperature started to climb. It was time to go uphill, which meant my heart rate was inching up there as well. I became focused and I began to tune out those around me. In my own weariness, I turned inward, looking toward the end, gaze fixed on the goal, the clock, the miles before me. It was all about me.
"'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' The King will reply, 'Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" (Matthew 25: 35-40, NIV)I thought about the effort it took me to look beyond my physical issues of the moment, to smile through my own fatigue, to greet another with the energy I could have been pouring into my run. It was hard. And yet, it was another physical, tangible example of God teaching me how to still engage and encourage others despite my own pain, my own issues, my own lack.
We live in a tired world. A world that needs encouragement. A world that needs tastes of joy. A world that sometimes needs prompting to just...smile. And to God's glory, I want to be able to give the world a bit of His energy, a bit of His unceasing love, a bit of His unending love -- one mile at a time.
Linking with Michelle and Laura. Beautiful people, beautiful communities.