I get so excited about New Year’s! I’m always ready for a new start! And I’m a resolution maker, too. I know people scorn and laugh, but I don’t care. Who has it all together?! Not me! I carry a to-do list with me every day. Why not make one for the year?! I want to be better, kinder, godlier (not sure if that’s a word) and encourage others! Whew! And I’m just getting started!
My daughter and I did a 5K at Thanksgiving. (We walked ‘cause Momma don’t run.) The reason I’m telling you about it now, is because something happened that I haven’t forgotten and hope I never will.
There were bunches of people that had turned out for the race-a record number, in fact. We weren’t from there, so nobody made a fuss over us. (That was totally fine.) A few booths were set up for registration, information, shirts, etc. As we took our place at the starting line, a bunch of teenage boys unloaded from a van. They were all dressed in matching outfits. I thought they might be a baseball team or cross-country team. At first we thought they were going to run in the race, but they quickly disappeared, going in all directions.
As we walked the course, we saw the athletes standing at certain key areas. I think they were to make sure no one got lost or needed anything. They did not speak a word. They didn’t nod or acknowledge us in any way though I smiled and said hello. They were just there and we walked on by.
It was a cool morning and the trail was long. A 5K might seem like small potatoes to some, but it was like a marathon to us. We walked and huffed and I already needed to go to the porta potty!
About a mile into the trek, the path took a turn and then began an uphill stretch. There stood a young athlete all by himself. He wore a school jacket with a matching hat. “Be careful. It’s slippery from the mud,” he called as we headed by him.
“Thank you,” we said in unison. “Why, what a nice young man!” I thought. Momma might have fallen on her keister or messed up her new hip! “That was so nice!” I breathed heavily to my daughter as we proceeded up the hill.
We saw lots more of the teammates. They neither looked, spoke nor smiled. But, on the way back (we had circled around), that same young man who had cautioned us about the mud said, “You can do it! You’re almost at the end!” Holy smokes, that was awesome! My daughter and I looked at each other and smiled. What a bright spot on a cold morning! It was the ONLY encouraging thing that was said the entire time! We took a breath and picked up our pace.
I do not know the young man’s name. I don’t know where he goes to school. I don’t even know what he looked like because he was bundled up. But I’ll tell you something…I won’t forget him! Yes, we would have survived without his warning. We would have finished without him telling us we were almost there. But, he cautioned us at just the right time. And he gave encouragement when we needed it. It gave us the Umpph! we needed to finish the race.
So, as I go into the new year, one of the things on my to-do list is to use my opportunities to encourage others around me. Sometimes life is hard and people are on their last legs. They need a good word! I want to be that guy! The one who has the good word!
In the New Testament, in Acts, we read about one of Paul’s friends named Joseph, but no one ever called him that. The apostles called him “Barnabas”, which means “son of encouragement”. What a great nickname! Maybe that young man at the 5K was named Barnabas…or maybe Barnie!
Not long ago I saw a sign that said, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
In 2016, how can God use you to be kind or encourage others? Be a Barnabas, or be that guy!
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.