I dropped the football

Published 10:40 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2018

By Nathan Rice

I ushered everyone outside where I had several games already set up. One grabbed the Frisbee while another went for the kickball. The 14-year-old picked up the football, and I indicated my participation with the well-known hands up “throw it to me” gesture. “Are you sure?” he asked.

He had witnessed several auto-immune disorders wreak havoc on my body for six months. He watched the trouble I had moving for many months, witnessed my hands shrivel and lose strength, and was aware of the pain that even simple tasks caused for many months. I assured him I was doing much better and told him of the doctor’s orders to start loosening my joints through more physical activity.

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He gently threw me the football, which I immediately dropped as I struggled to learn how to once again fully use my hands. “It’s OK,” he said, “You’re getting there.” He would ask if I was still OK to play every time I’d grimace throwing a pass.

We played catch with the football for a little while, and the movement helped break up some of the stiffness that had taken hold since the onset of my conditions. I could not provide the most thrilling game of catch, but he willingly stayed and helped me in the healing process.

Our world would be a different place if we all took the time to encourage and support each other throughout the day.

Imagine a schoolyard where the kid who drops the football is told that it’s OK and encouraged to keep trying rather than being ridiculed for being unable to haul in the pigskin.

Picture homes where families, both immediate and extended, continually encouraged and supported each other during difficult times.

What about the workplace? Wouldn’t it be just a little nicer if we all took a moment to encourage each other as the days went along? What if we took the time to consider that our co-workers’ stress and workload is as big as ours instead of immediately finding something to criticize about them?

Visualize a neighborhood where neighbors continually pick each other up instead of finding little things about each other they deem annoying in order to complain.

What if we tried to encourage the cashier in the store, and the cashier in the store tried to encourage the one checking out? Perhaps we could start by simply smiling as we passed each other in the aisle.

Simple acts of support and encouragement cost nothing and can be very easy to do. Sadly, we are often guilty of being so focused on ourselves that we don’t see or care about those around us.

Let us all take a lesson from this 14-year-old and keep our eyes open for a grimace on the face of another. We don’t know what everyone is facing on a day-to-day basis, and our encouragement may go a long way in helping someone heal. I believe we can make a big difference if we all take the time to encourage those around us.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.