My Hips Sometimes Lie
It’s true, I’m just not on Shakira’s level, I suppose.
What I mean by this is that I’ve had some gnarly hip pain on several of my training runs, dating back before Christmas. It’s been really disheartening to cut runs short, cut back on my weekly mileage, and to watch my times slowly creep back up.
I think I’ve managed to move past it with a regimen of stretching, strength-building, yoga, and rest, but hip pain belies an unfortunate truth when it comes to running a marathon – I’ve never done this before, and I’m not very good at it yet. Frankly, I don’t like being in that position.
Not Being (Comparatively) Excellent is No Excuse
There’s a mentality out there that claims, “if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” And this isn’t wrong. However, this mindset doesn’t tell us the whole story.
Far too often, we won’t know how to do something well until we’re actually in the midst of doing it. There are far too many unknowns and far too few who have pioneered the way. Making good decisions when it comes to managing people, launching new concepts, or, as in my case, running a marathon, often comes from trial and error more than a safely followed formula. Even the wisdom and experience of others has to be taken with a grain of salt – they are coming from their own unique circumstances, so their actions and process may not be a great fit. You’ll only know when you try.
Another platitude springs to mind here – ‘never compare your beginnings with another person’s middle.’ In other words, you may have just started a new process, and new style of leadership, a new training regimen. There will be kinks to work out, problems to address, and uncertainties that you aren’t prepared for, all of which prevent you from “doing it well.” There are plenty of people who are further down the line and have their formulas all drawn up. But that’s only really a problem if you begin to compare where you are starting with where their middles are. If you just started a business, you will not have the corporate culture of DropBox or WholeFoods. But that doesn’t mean you don’t keep going to try and create that culture.
Start, then Learn
With running, sometimes you just have to start moving. You can figure out if your body needs a long run or a short run once you are already going. You can listen to your hips if they start to ache. It’s ok not to know the right way to do something when you start – but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to learn.
Similarly, in the church, we find that there are times when God asks us simply to “move,” and doesn’t seem to bother pointing us in the particular direction. Moses was told to “set My people free,” but the burning bush didn’t exactly leave a roadmap to Egypt or a breakdown of the 10 plagues. Moses just acted on what he knew, taking one step at a time, until an entire people group had escaped the bounds of slavery. Even then, Exodus mentions that God went ahead of them in the desert, leading them daily, rather than dropping a pin on a map and saying, “go here.” They only knew to start, then learned as they went.
In my newest role, I help people learn how to do ministry with and for people with disabilities, including the creation of disability theology, building training modules and resources, and educating groups and other churches. I’m closer to the middle of my arc, having been studying this for years now. You might just be on day 1.
That is a good place to be.
Don’t compare yourself to a ministry that’s been going on for 20 years. Don’t fret about not having a Special Ed teacher with a Master’s degree to teach Sunday school. Don’t worry about the church across town who fully integrates people into their service. Figure out where you are, and start moving. If something is worth doing, you’ll figure out the right way on the road.
Of course, finding the right path doesn’t mean ignoring what’s out there. No sense in reinventing the wheel, right? So, as you start, use feel free to use this.
This is a resource to help learn how language and disabilities are connected, including guidance on how to talk about disabilities in a healthy and educated way. Mistakes may happen, but that’s ok as long as you are moving forward and seeking that right path. This was created as part of the Faith and Disabilities Inclusion Program at University Christian Church.
January 11, 2016
December 18, 2015
June 30, 2015