Grace for the Fifth Mile

I’m training for a half-marathon in November, and so far I’m still alive and not addicted to Advil, so yeah, it’s going well. The cold, dark mornings of October have made running on my lunch break a surprisingly enticing option, so for the past 2 weeks I’ve taken to the 1-mile loop my workplace is located on to log my miles.

Last Wednesday my speed work regimen consisted of a 5 mile run where I ran miles 1, 3, and 5 at a relatively slow pace and miles 2 and 4 about as fast as I could. By the time I got to mile 5 I was exhausted. Even though that last mile was a very slow jog, I was dying.

About halfway through that last mile I suddenly became aware of what I looked like. I was jogging very slowly, but I was winded, dripping sweat, and looking like I was ready to keel over. What if somebody I know drives past me right now? They’re going to think I’m terribly out of shape if a leisurely jog has me breathing this heavy.

I decided I’d make a note of anyone I knew who saw me, and then later in the day I’d casually drop by and let them know that I had run 5 miles over lunch. Hey, we can’t have them thinking I’m out of shape, can we?

As I was thinking through all this another thought came to me. What I was afraid of was someone taking a quick mental snapshot of me and judging me based on what they saw.

Running slowly, yet about to die? He must be out of shape!

But the thing is, how often do I do the very same thing with the people I interact with?

Someone doesn’t give me the attitude I was hoping for? What a miserable jerk.

A friend doesn’t seem interested in my exciting news? He can be so selfish sometimes!

The thing is, in almost every case you and I have NO IDEA what the people in our lives are going through behind the scenes. Your coworker that gave you attitude this morning? She might be a jerk…or maybe she’s going through the toughest week of her life at home. Your buddy who didn’t seem interested in what you had to say last night? He might be all about himself…or maybe he’s struggling with things you never imagined.

It’s by no means a profound thought, just something to consider the next time you take a quick look at a person or a situation and you want to cast judgment. Remember, you might be catching them on mile 5 (or mile 50) of a week where they’ve been running nonstop.

In fact, a little extra grace from you may be EXACTLY what they need.