I was a gymnast until I was twelve. I would go into the gym multiple times a week and then travel on the weekends for various meets. But when I turned twelve I was hit with the desire to be like any “normal” preteen. The thing preteens everywhere crave, feeling normal. For me this was defined by playing rec. league soccer, singing in choir, trying a lot of different things, and not being stuck. After much discussion in our house my parents agreed, and I was free. The world was my oyster of extra curricular activities. I ran cross country. I played rec league soccer. I took a martial arts class at our local Y. I preformed in local community theater. I even tried out for the John Greenleaf Whitter cheerleading team.
Thank goodness there is no photographic evidence of this adventure. While I had performed dance routines, loved the intensity of the vault, and flew threw the air on bars I was not as skilled at the group rhythm that was needed to be a cheerleader. I don’t even think I made the first round of cuts.
Regardless of the fact that my middle school cheerleading career was over before it began, I think there is something deeply important in cheerleading. We all need cheerleaders- folks that remind us of our strength when we forget- people who are there when things are going well- and people who are there encouraging us when it might be a shut out. May we celebrate our cheerleaders. Honestly, I don’t know where I would be without those folk, friends- teachers- mentors- family, who have built and rebuilt me through life’s challenges.
Paul reminds us of the importance of cheerleading in our reading today from Colossians
For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you – Colossians 1:9
As people of faith we are called to pray for one another- sometimes as Paul reminds us- without ceasing. We are called to lift one another up and cheer one another on, especially when things get hard. We don’t have to be Pollyanna about it; being a cheerleader doesn’t mean you lie or blow smoke. As a cheerleader you hope for the best, you see the good, encourage and affirm. In the last couple of days I have seen people beautifully living into this. Check in calls are being made on neighbors who before only gave passing nods. Cards are being written and groceries dropped off. Maybe today you cheerlead for someone, or maybe you reach out to one of your cheerleaders in life letting them know how much they’ve meant to you. And may we pray for one another and our world, especially now.