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© 2019 by Kimbre Varney

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The Lost Art of Togetherness

March 15, 2019

 

Together.

 

The word together almost provides a sense of security, of belonging.

It’s a nice word. It rolls off the tongue. I could even say that it provides me with warm feelings.

 

In theory, together is easy. I’ll help you, you’ll help me. On your bad days I’ll lift you up and on my bad days you’ll be beside me as well. We’ll stand up for one another when the time comes and defend one another if enemies show up. Together, we can do more, build more, achieve more.

 

It’s like we should be neighbors to one another. Kind. Loving. Enthusiastically focused on caring for and supporting one another. 

 

I think Mr. Rogers was onto something.

 

In today’s society, I think we’ve forgotten what together really means. We will stand beside one another due to a lack of options rather than out of support for each other.  We can’t help but be on the same list. Whether it’s a twitter list or a hashtag category. All of us, in rows. Shoulder to shoulder. Screen name after screen name.

 

When's the last time you looked at the person beside you and you exchanged a smile?

 

Maybe it was on the bus, while walking past the bus stop or even at the cashier at the store. Did you look up and see the other person's eyes? Did you hold their attention for a moment and smile? Was there a human connection? Were your words kind? Genuine?

 

I was at the grocery store a few weeks ago buying a beef roast for dinner and I hadn’t paid much attention to the packaging of the meat.  I had also grabbed some mushrooms, onions, peppers and other meal ingredients. As I was checking out, the grocery store clerk spoke up.

 

I remember feeling like the interaction was jolting. I was in a rush, totally focused on my mastery of the mysterious credit card system that had me baffled. It was asking me for my phone number and then about donating to a cause. I was engrossed with when to insert my card, which side was up and down, how long to leave the card inside, and the whole time the machine kept beeping at me, violently.

 

   “The meat is very messy.”

 

The words cracked like thunder to me. Abruptly, I looked up.  Awakening to the world from a stupor, I looking around seeing the bagger for the first time. She repeated herself, holding the meat up, her hands slightly bloody.

 

In California, we are stingy with plastic bags and in my city, each plastic bag costs extra so saving bags is a big deal both for cost and environmental impact. I had asked for a bag, singular, and this individual was letting me and the cashier know that my request for a single bag may have messy consequences.  

 

A moment later the cashier said, “We’ll use a second bag, thank you for catching that.”

 

A few moments pass, my card accepted, the credit card machine finally quiet, and the grocery store bagger handed me my bags. I deliberately looked her in the eye and I thanked her profusely. I told her how much it meant to me that she spoke up and kept my produce from getting messy. I wanted to encourage her and thank her. Her eyes darted down to the floor with a small thank you and then she turned to the next customer in line.

 

All in all, this was a minor moment in all of our lives. I went home and had a delicious meal. I don’t know if my thank you really meant anything to the grocery store clerk, but I needed to express it for myself. The Grocery Store employees probably had uneventful days after the encounter, but that moment stays with me all these weeks later. I had to be awakened to the people and situation that surrounded me when I was in my local community.

 

Together. I’ll help you, and you’ll help me. I’ll encourage you, and you’ll encourage me.

 

Becoming passionate about our well being is not an easy task. In fact, I would argue that it is an incredibly difficult task to maintain. Our well being isn’t just about our physical selves being well cared for, embracing a nutritious food plan and regular activity. True well being is about each of us individually choosing to embrace our best emotional health, our greatest spiritual health, and our best physical health. And this journey of becoming well shouldn’t be made alone.

 

As people who are becoming awakened to the necessity of valuing our whole health, we can’t stay isolated from one another. Whether early in the process of health change or later in the process, one of the best steps we can take is to embrace a community of people who are also changing. It doesn’t mean we all make the same identical choices in nutrition plans or fitness programs, but it does propose that we belong to a community that exists to encourage, uplift, and raise each other up.  The apostle Paul writes:

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11

So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. {The Message} 

 

Today I challenge each of us to not get lost in our daily moments. To not be lost on social media. To not ignore the people that surround us. Instead, I challenge each of us to make human connections. Encouraging one another, building up one another’s hope for today and tomorrow. I challenge us as a Faith and Fitness community to not leave people behind but to look after one another. Share stories, be honest, be open about the moments you fail and the moments you triumph. It is in this community atmosphere where authentic journey can take place. Let’s do it together!

 

So say a couple kind words and maybe even share this article with a friend you want to invite on the journey.

 

 

 

About the Author: 

 Austin Andrews is a California native born into a multigenerational ministry family. A fourth-generation preacher, Austin emphasizes God's love, grace, and call to rise to the challenges in life. Austin and his Dad were contestants on NBC's Biggest Loser which has impassioned Austin's understanding of Faith and Fitness. Austin is currently on the personal journey to lose weight again, after Biggest Loser. Austin's pursuit of health understanding has led him to become a NASM Certified personal trainer with specializations in Fitness Nutrition and MMA Conditioning. He is also a current student pursuing a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Concordia St. Paul. Austin is the co-founder of Fit.Church and hosts the Ordinary Champions Podcast.

 

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