Mustering Courage

These past two weeks have been full of obstacles, mostly those that required a healthy dose of courage to overcome. One the scariest obstacles I’m still challenging me is getting comfortable driving. Despite the title of my previous blog post being about “the driver’s seat” I still hadn’t actually driven my car yet when I wrote that post. These past two weeks I’ve been tentatively building up my confidence. First by having a “lesson” where I was able to practice on quieter roads with FC (Father Clayton) in the passenger seat to help me stay on track. Since then, I’ve been tentatively going on short driving excursions on my own. To my local grocery store, then to the nearby mall, then to the next suburb over. Each time I prepare to drive I still need to give myself a pep talk to boost my confidence. That said, the actual driving has been relatively straightforward. The hardest part at this point is finding the courage to get into the driver’s seat each time. I imagine my experience driving here will be similar to what happened when I was learning to drive stick shift. When I learned manual it was stressful, took an enormous amount of mental energy and I hated doing it, until one day I suddenly realized that it was no longer so difficult for me, and it became a normal activity instead of a stressful one. Until I reach that shift, (ba dum tss) I’ll be keeping to my pep-talks and slowly extending my driving distances.

On Sunday the 2nd, I led my first meeting with the youth at St. Michael’s. Around 70 youth attended, which was about 20-30 more people than I had expected. They filled out a questionnaire about what they’re hoping to do/get from this year in the youth program, and got some contact info to start a youth program group chat. I’m really enthused about the responses I got. Many of them are excited about fellowship, outreach, trips and summer camp. These are all things I’m very excited to integrate, and I was very inspired by their responses. Now my job is more about paring down my ideas into things that are doable. It’s a challenging process, but certainly the preferable side to be working from.

On Thursday, I went on an adventure to get a gym membership. First, I had to take the longest drive yet (15 mins) on the busiest streets yet. Then I faced all the stresses that comes with exercising for the first time in a while, as well as being in a new exercise space. Although wasn’t as strong as I wished, the adventure overall went well. Now I’ve got my membership, and can hopefully add it to my regular patterns soon.

On Friday, I took the train for the first time to Centurion, which is south of Pretoria. I met Lize, who I had been put in contact with from connections in the US. She took me to a dairy farm and park which was wonderful and peaceful, then invited me to have dinner with her family. We played a game called Boereplaazs (which means Farmer Farm) which was along the same lines as Monopoly, and entirely in Afrikaans. I think her kids had a fun time listening to me attempt to pronounce the Afrikaans words, and help me by translating. It was such a wonderful afternoon and evening, relaxing with good food and good company.

On Saturday, I went ice skating with some of the youth from St. Thomas. I love skating, so I was really excited. That said, I was also a little wary, as I’ve only recently been cleared for that kind of activity following my knee surgery. This is the first thing I’ve done that has been high stress for my knee outside of physical therapy. I took it slow, and as the time went on my confidence grew and my knee felt solid. A huge relief and physical victory, and a whole lot of fun!

I feel well rewarded for the things that have taken so much courage in the last few weeks. That said, it does not come without a price. It has taken a huge amount of additional energy to muster enough courage, even for tasks smaller than the ones that have made this post. As such, I’ve also spent a lot of time feeling exhausted, and needing to take a lot of time to recover, which can be difficult. I’ve been using various methods to restore myself. Certainly sleeping more, doing face masks, watching romantic comedies, going for walks, and hanging out with Thomas, the church cat. Today, the music at SMAA was the restoration I needed. I woke up exhausted and stressed, already looking forward to getting home to take a nap. The music was so loud and lively that people started marching and dancing through the aisles, clapping and shouting all the way. It was absolutely what I needed after some challenging and exhausting weeks.

7 thoughts on “Mustering Courage

  1. Just remember. Listen to the rythem of the car, it will tell you when to shift , Hard to explain but the moan of the engine will tell you when to shift gears , You will get it , I got faith in you. I drove Nigel’s Land Rover in England. No power steering, and learning to use the emergency hand brake at stop lights, That was interesting as we do not use them in states . SO anyway . Skating, Good on ya ,I cannot skate a lick but I enjoy ice hockey. I am glad you had a good turn out for the youth groups . That is a plus ! Any gift packs we can put together as a church that you’d like from home? Keep the blog going, Love reading the stories.

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  2. Marilee, I am so enjoying your blogs. SO in awe of all you are doing. and accomplishing. Our music today was awesome. Your folks recruited Shante’ Leslie soloist and Ellen Bagley as organist. I videoed her sining on my phone. Your mom and dad were awesome a few weeks back with their singing and guitar playing. I videoed them also. Prayers, JoAnne

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  3. Your journey will be full of exciting yet exhausting new things! Seems like you have a good start on your new environment. Just take your time and try not to do too much! You seem to be settling in just fine. With your new driving skills, you can drive in England too. That’s something I’ve never had the courage to try!!! Bless you and know we are all thinking about you.
    Becky

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  4. I am so glad you could skate and that it felt your knee was up to the challenge.
    Driving in a strange place is definitely a big challenge – I remember it and respect the energy that takes.
    I remember finding the mere taste of butter being different, due to local cows eating different food that came from different soil, to be so destabilizing at first that i needed time to process all of those manifold changes — I’m glad you’re making space for the adjustment time. It’s real!! Sending lots of love.

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  5. Can’t wait to be singing and marching with you…and to hear reports from singing a few key favorite songs you’ve taught with SMAA kids. XOMom

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  6. I am so excited to hear that you are making the adjustments for your journey and that you have more materials /activities for the youth group to begin with. I’m positive the youth enjoy your leadership as well. Keep up the good work and courage too. Soon the driving will be smooth as you practice more and more. I am absolutely thrilled to be on this journey with you. God speed until the next time.

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