Brian could shame me into running: “You say you are a runner, but I haven’t seen one of your Instagram photos after a run for a long time.” He could scare me into running: “You know about my heart attack and you are even older than me.” He could nag me into running: “I know this is the third text today, but I think you need to get out there.”
Last week, he asked me how I was doing and waited. His followup questions made it clear that he listened to the subtexts of my writing.
Sunday, I said, “Tell me that I need to run tomorrow no matter how chilly it is.” Brian said, “Jon, run tomorrow, no matter how chilly it is. The coffee at the end will warm you up.” He waited until I asked for accountability and provided exactly what I asked for.
He could have added, “I’m glad you are making this choice” or “It will do you good” or “I’ve always found a run to be a good thing”. All of those would have shifted attention to his experience. Instead, his only addition was about the coffee, a reminder of a thing that I do after every run to connect to a couple people, to make myself stop, to let myself think.
Brian offered a perfect small example of a way we can fulfill Jesus’ command to love one another. In a context of listening, he gave me courage and encouragement and an awareness of community.
When we think of Jesus laying down his life as a measure of love, we think love means massive events. Sometimes, laying down our life means quietly shifting our attention to the wellbeing of someone else.
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