We strongly believe at The Dale that we are all invited to participate in this community, and that we can come as we are. Full stop. It even says so on our website! That’s how you know it’s legit 😉
This can be such a beautiful thing to witness. We often see miracles right before our eyes… people in a verbal battle stopping to ask for forgiveness, people growing and changing and softening over time, and people coming out of their shells – just to name a few. However, inviting people to come as they are can also be really scary.
On Sunday a friend was coming to church who we did not have the best interaction with on Thursday afternoon which is the end of our work week. It would be the first time we saw him again since and I was super nervous. We had left him angry and in a bad space, as we try and walk together through some stressful stuff. I was worried he would come to church angry, frustrated, and not ready to accept that we really do care for him. I tried to remind myself that this is one of those moments that is us – The Dale. This is what we talk, think, pray, and dream about. This invitation to come as we are means to come happy or pissed off, grieving or thriving, joyful or filled with pain. As long as the space remains safe for all, we truly believe in accepting people as all that they are. So whether our friend came to church angry still, his invitation was still there to participate and come in. This can feel really vulnerable, anxious-making, and uncomfortable.
One thing I have had to accept during my time here is that this invitation is open to me as well. I am by no means perfect, or have all my stuff together. As much as I have tried to keep my pain inside and push out my joy instead, there are just some seasons where I do not have the capacity to do that, nor should I. As a member of this community, I am invited to come as I am. This can mean with joy, laughter, and jokes. Or it can mean with tears, sorrow, and longing for peace. This can be uncomfortable too, for me! But I have learned that keeping pain in and not sharing with my team and not being honest and not being transparent can be worse for them, for me, and for others that I might lash out at. This is a lesson I am learning very slowly, but surely I hope.
To our great relief, our friend did come to church on Sunday and he was able to apologize for the way he treated us on Thursday. This is a huge step for this person, and we were so grateful and glad. This could have not been the case – he could have come in still mad and grouchy. And we would have loved him the same, even in that tension of trying to be open and being uncomfortable.
I feel like I write this every blog but it’s still the truth so I’ll say it over and over – I am so grateful to be part of this community where the invitation to come as I am is always there, to lean into uncomfortable situations and grow from it, and to be witness to people (me included) growing, trusting, and leaning into the safety that comes with being exactly who we are.
I am a Community Worker at The Dale Ministries, a church and organization in Parkdale where we journey together by way of church service, outreach, meal programming, and being pals. To do this work, I must fundraise for my entire salary. If you would like to support me financially, please visit thedale.org/donate!