weakWeak at Mile 11

I didn’t feel weak until about mile 11. At that point, I had run as far as my training had taken me last Sunday. The February drizzle and stiff wind had me feeling chilled. Although I only had 2.1 miles left to run, it looked like we’d have to run a long ways still to reach the Cardinal’s stadium.What would the world look like if we took a moment to notice the weak and encourage them? http://wp.me/p7W1vk-aT

For the past two hours I had been running in my third half-marathon—only this time, I signed up as motivation for training for a full marathon. One of those crazy things I thought I should do in my fiftieth year.

As I looked at the road ahead of me, I could hear an enthusiastic voice calling out, “Right this way! You can do it! Head to the left and then down under the road!” A teenage girl shook a huge sign with an arrow on it and called encouraging words as each runner passed by. I realized that the racers would cross under the road and run directly towards the stadium—Whew!

“You’re looking good!” she told me when I passed her. Her sweet words made me smile to myself. Sure, I felt a little weak in the knees as I headed down the incline and through the tunnel, but her ceaseless cheerleading had lifted my spirits.

The Power of Encouragement

She wasn’t the only one along the way who encouraged the runners. Pedro had cheered me at the starting line, and then hopscotched ahead in the truck every few miles to cheer me on again.

When the racers through Luke Air Force Base, airmen, both on and off duty, had turned out to cheer us on. Some had parked their cars close to the road and had their stereos blasting tracks of energizing music. Others gave high-fives and shouted encouraging words.

Their presence humbled me. I thanked every single one as I ran by. To think that these men and women, who put their lives on the line for me on a daily basis would show up on a drizzly, cold February morning to cheer for ME and a crowd full of strangers filled me with awe.

A big shout out to all the airmen at #Lukeairforcebase who came out in the rain to cheer for the @SunHealth AZ Marathon/Half-Marathon today! Click To Tweet

How to Treat the Weak

All of the cheering, words of encouragement, and cups of water distributed by volunteers made me think of that verse in Romans 8:26

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (NLT).

Those volunteers and cheerleaders see weary person after weary person plod, dash, or run by. Each time they offer a word of encouragement or some nourishment. And the plodders, dashers, and runners feel refreshed. Weak limbs feel a little stronger. Tired minds that didn’t realize that they needed a positive word suddenly feel able to keep on running.

I couldn’t help but think that maybe we need more cheerleaders in church. Maybe we need to remember that we are the body of Christ—and each part of the body is equally important. “On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable…” 1 Corinthians 12:22 (NIV). I know that I often fail to cheer on the weak and offer encouragement to those who seem weary.

Maybe we need more cheerleaders in #church. Have you cheered someone on lately? #fmfparty #BGBG2 Click To Tweet

In order to be strong, we need cheerleaders from all walks of life to encourage us when we feel weak. And that means we all need to take part in the encouragement business.

Q4U: How can I cheer you on today? Are you working towards a big goal? Feeling discouraged about something? Let me know in the comments so I can cheer YOU on!

PS: If you’d like to know more about the marathon I’m training for, and WHY I decided to attempt to run one, you can check out my fundraising page over at the Team in Training website. I hope to raise $1200 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society—a wonderful organization that sponsors research for blood-based cancers.

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28 Comments

  1. I can picture all the people cheering and how valuable it can be for a runner! It’s true in our spiritual life too. We all need to be cheering one another till the finish line. Such a wonderful thought Anita.

  2. Wow!! Congratulations on this big accomplishment! What an honor to have so many cheering for you and how they ended up being a powerful portrait of what we should be doing for others! Thank you for sharing the challenge in that!
    ~Your FMF neighbor this week

  3. Love this! Great job completing your third half-marathon. Can’t wait to cheer you on (on Nike and text) as you run your marathon!

  4. Yay for you, Anita! I love hearing about your adventures whether they are running or traveling from Alaska back home.

    Cheering on the body of Christ sounds like something we all should embrace. I wish you best of luck as you train for your marathon.
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Working Up An AppetiteMy Profile

  5. Well done on completing your half marathon! I went to cheer on a friend in a marathon a while ago and I was amazed by how much it meant to her in encouraging her to keep going. Even small encouragements are powerful and we definitely need to do this more in the church too.
    Lesley recently posted…Questions Of LifeMy Profile

  6. Way to go. I have done 4 half marathons and am signed up for two more this year. My first we ran through Wright Patterson AFB. It was the AF half marathon. I have never done a full. Maybe I’ll save it for my 50th year. 🙂 Loved reading your story. I ran out of gas at mile 11 my last one too. The pacer for 2 hours caught up to me and I forced myself to stay with him the last mile. 🙂
    Amanda recently posted…Deployment Changes You ForeverMy Profile

  7. Anita, I’m 50 and couldn’t even begin to run a half marathon! That’s such an accomplishment! I love your focus on encouragement. The whole picture you shared of the people cheering you on as you ran really touched me. It reminds me of my favorite verse, Hebrews 12:1-2 -Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Thank you for sharing!

    1. I love that verse, Leslie! Call me crazy ;), but I like tackling challenges! Maybe it runs in the family–my mom’s cousin ran 50 marathons AFTER she turned 50! Eventually, she started winning her age group (when you’re 70, you don’t have much competition!).

  8. Wow, a marathon. That’s great! Cheering for you over here in NC. 🙂 Encouragement is nourishing, isn’t it? Never thought of that before. We feed on it, and it gives our weary selves new life to make it that extra mile or two that day. Powerful connection, Anita. Love that. 🙂 — Thanks for sharing with #ChasingCommunity today, great to connect with you. — And, blessings on your linkup, too. 🙂 Will have to remember you when I have an inspirational story post. Thanks for hosting that. 🙂 — ((blessings))
    Brenda recently posted…If My People: 2nd Edition (+ Linkup )My Profile

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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