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Sixty Miles
Last weekend, I was honored to participate in the 3-Day for the Cure, a sixty-mile fundraising walk raising money for breast cancer research and prevention. It was an overwhelming weekend filled with emotional and physical highs and lows. Walking twenty miles a day, three days in a row is enough to make even a strong man shed a tear or two, but when you add the pain experienced by those whose lives have been forever changed by breast cancer, you can expect to collect buckets of tears.
I was acutely aware during those 72 hours that every person around me had a story to tell. Some proudly displayed photos of mothers, sisters, aunts or friends on their backpacks. Others had names written on their shirts or ribbons inscribed with loved one’s names tied to their shoes. But everywhere I looked, the faces were etched with stories I could only imagine.
Over the course of the weekend I found myself wanting to ask: Why are you walking? In whose memory? What gives you the strength to take another step? There was a sense that by hearing their stories, my own resolve to walk another mile would be increased. And I did hear from many of them about their experiences – days spent at the bedside of a friend, hours going through tests to determine the parameters of their disease, surgeries and reconstructions, good news and bad.

Moment to Listen
Taking a moment to listen to their stories and imagine walking in their shoes created more love in my heart towards them, and also made me hate even more the disease that robs them and their loved ones of a full lifetime.
But as the weekend came to a close I began to realize something stunningly simple. Every one has a story. Not just the people who surrounded me during the breast cancer walk. Every single person I see, every day, every week, every month of my life, has a story. Great love and heartbreak, joy and sorrow, wrong turns and saving grace, loneliness and friendship, disappointment and triumph. Unfortunately, I don’t generally notice. I’m so caught up in the dailyness of my life, that I miss the stories that surround me.
I would love to begin to listen to everyone the way I listened last weekend. If I did, I’m confident God would pour upon me love for the stranger at the gym or the preschool or the gas station or the bowling alley. And I would come to hate even more the separation from God that keeps them from knowing the unconditional love of my Heavenly Father.

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By Joelle Yamada. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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