Sunday, July 31, 2011

8 Miles with a Smile

Photo source
Saturday morning dawned cloudy with a slow, sweet breeze.  We received nary a raindrop from the tropical storm that had gone south and dashed our hopes for drought relief, but the weather that morning was great for an early morning run.

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.

Jesus says,
"'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  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.

Oh!  Please don't forget -- Soli Deo Gloria opens Monday night at 8pm.  I would love to be able to encourage and pray for you!


  1. Oh this so reminded me of several of my own attempts to spread joy while running. I am typically a nose to the grindstone jogger, wrapped up in my own misery and focused on finishing. But occasionally I too vow to smile and greet along the way, and it really is a refreshing, uplifting experience. Thanks for the reminder to be an encourager, Jen! And you are one of the best I know!

  2. yes, I am with Michelle, you are a fantastic encourager, I'd say a gifting the Lord has given you. It is hard even as you go thru the 'hard' things in life to get beyond your own hurt and pain and remember another crossing your path with a smile. This makes me want to see beyond myself a little more, thanks Jen!

  3. This is a great post. "We live in a tired world." So right - if we can reflect just a little of Jesus throughout the day, what an impact we can make! This is great encouragement as we begin a new week :)

  4. This was a great reminder that I needed. Right now sitting in the hospital with moments of tension, I feel like I have failed miserably in this area, to spread joy and share His unending love. Yes, this is a tired world indeed. Thank you for sending out the prayer request-it is such an encouragement. This blogging community is amazing.

  5. So many things about this post touched my heart as I sit here, comfortable at my own desk...hidden behind my computer screen. So often, it is easier to drop my head and ignore those around me because they ignore me...and yet, it is those people that I have decided to visually embrace that have left the biggest marks on my heart.

    Great post!!

  6. Hi Jen - its so true that some people don't like a person's openness and friendliness but I believe you still planted seeds and maybe inside a smile was developing. Also, pushing through, going the extra mile - also makes a difference.
    God bless

  7. I love how you find an Epiphany in everyday experiences.

  8. Great post, Jen. Even though some were not open to receiving your greeting, I pray some seeds were planted.


  9. I loved this! I want to give too, and it's so simple!
    Blessings to you,

    ps I am in awe of anyone who can run 8 miles! ;)

  10. I don't run, but to spread a taste of joy to a tired and hungry world? A day at a time? A mile at a time? A step at a time? I hunger to do that.

    Encouraging post.

  11. This is so good Jen--my husband recently had a similar experience and found the same thing, that some people just weren't in a very receiving frame of mind. And my recent experience with how pain can fog your ability to be outwardly focused was a lesson like your last few miles, intense and turning your concentration inward. You wrapped this up so beautifully in a bite-sized nugget of encouragement to share our joy wherever we are and whatever our own circumstance!

  12. OH, amen, Jen. We live in a world that needs that gentle word to lift up. Bless you for being that, whether received or not. Sometimes the seed takes time to grow roots. Keep planting!


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