The other day I was headed out for my run in the morning at the stadium near my house. I love running. I used to hate it, I actually used to despise it, running used to control me. Now in my life, running is my therapy, it helps me put my thoughts into place when they are just swirling around. It helps me calm down, get in a rhythm, and allows me to know my body’s limits and abilities.
That morning, I wanted to run. It was a typical day, nothing new. I wanted to run so badly, I wanted to push myself, I wanted to organize my thoughts. Lap after lap alone at the track, I felt this energy falling off me. I no longer was able to organize my thoughts. I wanted to keep going but something was telling me to stop and sit awhile…so naturally I ignored that and kept going…even looked at the stadium stairs and did some stadiums to keep myself moving. But still, there was something telling me to stop and sit awhile.
At the top of one of my stadiums, I plopped myself down in a shady spot overlooking the red, dusty track. I listened to my breathing and allowed myself to just be for a moment. Just be. Here now. And in that moment, it sort of hit me wondering how the heck I got here. How I got to the Dominican Republic, how I found New Hope, how I became passionate about this work, but also how difficult this work is, how frustrating this work is, how angry I am with the world’s brutality sometimes, how important this work is, but how much it is affecting me and hitting me hard. For that moment, I was able to be above it all, at the top of the stadium looking down. My boss, Joy, has her high above spot, too. She goes there to dream but also to be physically above things that are challenging. I didn’t realize that the stadium was that for me until writing this. Just to physically feel taller and higher, I felt like I could breath for a moment, felt like I was above the water.
This work is tough. It is not sugar-coated, nicely wrapped, with a bow. It is real, raw, and beautiful in its own way. Within the beautiful moments, there are moments of grief, vulnerability, moments of triggers and moments of pure sadness but I would argue that these moments are just as beautiful as the typical ‘beautiful’ smiley moments. Without darkness, we don’t know light. Without the tough, feeling like giving up moments, we don’t see the joyous and wondrous times.
I am thankful for my emotions, I wouldn’t be the person I am without them. I am thankful for tears and thankful for sadness allowing for a flow of emotion to show among my face. To walk with these girls for the past four months is probably one of the highest honors I’ve had. To cry with them, to laugh with them, to hug them and hold their hand affects me in ways that I would have never realized but each emotion that I have, I try to match with patience with myself. Sometimes that patience with my emotions is small and I get frustrated that I am not stronger but the thing that I’m learning is that there is a lot of strength in emotion. There is strength in tears. There is strength in breaking down. I would be lying to you if I said this year is easy. This year, I am growing and these growing pains hurt.
As I looked down at the track, allowing for my thoughts to file themselves back, I was glad that something told me to sit and to be. That something was the Lord just pulling me back to listen to His whisper. To sit in my emotion, to feel it and own it and allow it to keep me going. To keep holding their hand, to keep having the hard conversations, to keep hugging them after a long day. Recognizing my own emotion in all this has allowed me to become closer with each girl as they see more of the real Jess coming through.
Here’s to the real, raw, emotional you.
Now for some fun photos that ya gotta see