It was toward the end of my run this morning. The morning was aging and the sun was rising. An older man walked on the other side of the street, headed the opposite direction. We made eye contact just as two cars approached, and I raised a hand to give the "runner's wave," the simple acknowledgement of another exerciser's existence. His face broke into a wide smile as he raised a hand back. And then he yelled across the street,
A second passed as I registered what he'd said, and then I called out a quick, "Thanks" before the passing cars blocked us from each other's view.
Since I've been running, this is the first time someone's shouted encouragement on the streets. Nods, smiles, "morning"s and often quiet, breathless "hi"s are given and received. Sometimes a quick conversation about a dog. But never encouragement.
I don't know who this man was. Maybe he saw the pained look on my face as I finished the run. Maybe he's just an encouraging type of person. Whatever the case is, I realized this morning it'd been a long time since I'd received a good word. (By "received," I mean taken to heart, not just "heard.") When I received it this morning, it helped me keep going. Two small words are what I thought about for the next half mile.
Doing good. I can keep going.
This man didn't know me. He didn't know I'd been wrestling mentally for the previous six miles with the grief of leaving Cambodia, the struggle to let go of an identity in performance, the preparation of my heart to go to counseling later in the day. He didn't know these things. But his two simple words have stuck with me all day.
They say actions speak louder than words. Sometimes, though, words are needed too.
I'm reminded of Jesus. He's really good at this. He acknowledged Zaccheus in the tree, Bartameus as he yelled for his sight, the woman with the issue of blood. He acknowledges them, and He speaks to them. Not just an acknowledgment. An encouragement.
Today, know you're doing good. Keep it up. You're doing good.