A Different Kind of Letter to Myself.

I went running on Saturday evening. As the sun was setting and my baby was asleep in her room and my husband showering from his own run, I walked across the street to the open field and started. I opened my app (Couch25K in case you were wondering) and turned on my music and was guided by a lovely woman in my earbuds telling me to begin.

This app starts you out slowly, as the name of it suggests that you are likely starting from sitting on a couch (which I was). There is a slow 5 minute walk, and then 20 minutes of alternate walking and jogging, followed by another 5 minute cool down. It started off well. I was confident in my ability to at least begin. And I did. But then, as most things in life, it got harder. The longer I ran the more blood I could taste in my mouth. The more my skin started to turn red as the heat coming off me met the cool evening breeze. The more I wanted to scream at the nice lady in my ears instructing me when to walk vs. run (especially when she let me know that I was in fact only half way done even though it seemed I had been running for an hour).

But I finished. I completed the workout, ending in my backyard with a stretch. I walked back into my house and found the cup of water Ian had poured me. I flopped down in a chair and commiserated with him about how much that sucked (in kind of a good way). And I took a shower.

This is a seemingly mundane story. But I think it has a wider meaning.

I have started the journey of acknowledging that the anxiety I live with has in fact become too large for me to manage on my own. I am not sure when I will be ready to share that more broadly, but I would like to name that it helps me to make connections in my head about seemingly mundane things and how they can relate to a bigger picture. I was reminded of this today when I realized we had passed mid-April – April 17th to be exact. That was the day I started at the Dale four years ago in 2017. Every year I usually write myself a letter of encouragement to remember time passed. Last year I was obviously away on maternity leave and with a world wide pandemic and all, I just did not have it in me. This year, I forgot.

I forgot. How did that happen? Do you want to know how? Because I think my life at The Dale is a lot like running. I started off slow, brutally aware of every week passing. It was maybe easy at first to put one foot in front of the other and move but once I started really going I was taking gasping breaths wondering if I could continue on (with relationship building, fundraising, the newness of it all). The good thing was that I had someone in my ear and on my team, much like the woman in my app… however I knew them by name – Erinn and Joanna. They instructed me and encouraged me and helped me to keep moving. I had people around me doing life as they have always done it, much like the people around me on the field that night, no matter that I had inserted myself into the space. I had Ian much like I always have, cheering me on from the sidelines. And as time passed and I kept going, pushing myself mentally out of my comfort zone, it got easier. Much like I imagine running will. Soon I will be able to run for longer stretches of time, not noticing every minute that passes. I won’t be sore the day after (and the day after that) just as my growing pains of being new in a community slowly passed. I will be more easily able to trust myself to continue on and keep going, just like I learned to trust those around me when they reached out with encouragement.

So maybe I can continue the tradition on in a different kind of letter to myself even though it is late, and even though I forgot. Running can be exchanged for ________(insert hard life activity here). We all need encouragement. We all need a push. We all need someone in our ear saying “You can begin” and “You’re half way – keep moving”.

My time at the Dale is a lot like running. It gets faster, easier, and more enjoyable with each passing year. And now that four years have passed, a lot has changed. I can do hard things. My labouring breath has slowed. And I am stronger now than I was before. That brings me joy, much like this job. I was called to the Dale four years ago. I will be forever grateful for that.

Peace to you this week.

I am a community worker at The Dale Ministries. For me, doing this work means inviting others into my journey of ministry – prayerfully and financially. If you would like to support the work that I do at The Dale, I would love to chat. Please email me at meagan.gillard@gmail.com

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