By Cally Robertson

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11

Now I know you are all aware of Elizabeth’s adventures with running (if not read them here), and she has recently dragged me into her running phase (or possibly new lifestyle, though I’m guessing phase).  
Elizabeth can set a time or distance in her head and just make it happen.  Perhaps she’ll slow down for a bit or be “running” at a pace when walkers could pass her, but she sets a goal and reaches it. 
I, on the other hand, might start out running (after a nice warm-up walk), only to reach a stop sign and actually obey, even though my “run” had only lasted about a tenth of a mile.  Then I will enjoy the neighborhood at a power walk pace and possibly start running again if I see a car coming or need to feel better about myself and pass a slightly slower person.  Running is definitely not a passion of mine, and I have an ACL repair and a few other creaks and pains to help me justify my lack of perseverance on a run.  
This past Sunday, Elizabeth and I were planning to run/walk on the boardwalk.  In my head, we were sort of trying to get in shape but I was most excited to have a 5 mile stretch to chat, catch up, and people watch.  Elizabeth, however, had it in her mind to run 2 miles to the end (I thought that was it) and then turn around for another 2 (I began to dread the rest of sister-bonding time, though by the time I realized her goals, we were a mile into it). 
Now, any runners out there might not think this is such an achievement, but I would literally try to sprain my ankle on the timed 2-mile run on the field hockey team in high school.  I also refused to run on campus in college, because while most of the runners at school looked like fresh gazelles with perfect ponytails, I felt much more like an old hippo with frizzy hair. 

All this should set the scene for the two of us running together.  
Believe it or not, we actually reached our goal!  After Elizabeth and I finished, I felt so accomplished and satisfied that I had actually “gone for a run” that involved more running than walking.  I am fully confident that I would not have done that alone.  

When I am by myself, I have reasons why I should stop and walk or turn around early flooding my head the whole time.  

When I was with Elizabeth, we could encourage each other through it, and I knew that if I stopped, she would also stop and fall short of her goal.  

For this to work, both people have to be somewhat motivated and equally paced. 

I “run” with my boyfriend, but that usually consists of us running together for 5 minutes before I let him run ahead and come back to meet me about 20 times.  I know that I cannot keep up with him, and I get discouraged and don’t push myself at all.  When I “run” with my mom, we prefer to power walk most of the way with a block of running thrown in a couple times.  While I love that, it doesn’t push me physically.

This really reminds me of our journeys with Christ.  Alone, we can give up or look for excuses or shortcuts with every step.  When comparing ourselves to those we view as “better Christians,” we can get easily discouraged because we don’t love praying for hours every day or because we don’t have a heart for the poor like they do.  And when we are close to someone who is slowly walking or even standing still in their faith, it is easy to become content with where we are and never push ourselves to grow closer to the Lord.

It is the people in our lives who are tracking with us, running next to us with the same motivation who help us the most in our faith journey.  We need people to encourage us when we are tired, talk to us so we forget the pain, and remind us of the goal.  We are called to fellowship and accountability with other Christians, and I am convinced that it is the best way to stay on track with your faith and grow closer to the Lord.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.
Hebrews 10:24