On Sunday afternoon my wife Maribeth, and I went for a run.  For me this is a big deal.  It is the first time  I have run since 2011.  Before then I was a relatively serious runner.  I had completed two marathons, could click off a 10 mile run in an hour and 15 minutes and was logging 40-50 miles a week.  What is odd is my brain still remembers those days.  Unfortunately my body is denying that it ever happened.  Over the past nine years I had my hip replaced and gained far too much weight, as the way I coped with stress changed from running to eating.  The result is I am overweight and out of shape.  I need to make a change!  

(Maybe,) this change began for me on Sunday.  We started our run by alternating running and then walking  from one fire hydrant to another.  I got winded quickly and my titanium hip (and large stomach) prevented a full range of motion.  I have a long way to go.  The motivating factor for us to go for a run is that I want to run the Spring Fling on April 25 to benefit Family Promise.   Now, I know I could participate in the walk (and perhaps that will be the end result) but this is an opportunity for me to make a change in my life.  

Since starting at Family Promise, the question of how people change their life has been on my mind.  Our goal is to help families move from homelessness to sustainable and permanent independent housing.  This is a significant change. A friend of mine used to say that most people will not change until the pain of the current situation becomes unbearable.  Others have suggested that if someone does not want to be homeless they should just change their behavior.  Just like that!  If it were this easy I would be thin and in shape.  (Also my office and basement would be organized.)  It just happens that my issue has not led me to be homeless.  If unaddressed, though, it could lead me to a heart attack, diabetes or death.   It is my guess you could name a couple of your own issues that remain unattended. 

The notion that homelessness will not exist if a person simply changes their behavior is a misunderstanding.  Many contributing factors that lead to homelessness exist outside of individual behavior.  This does not mean moving from homelessness to independence is impossible.  We witness it on a regular basis.  The process though is long and difficult.  It is filled with running, walking, crawling, standing, crouching to get ones breath, even moving backwards at times.  (Yes, I just described my run!) It is filled with moments where people want to give up.  We should never take lightly how difficult it is to make a significant change in life.   Nor should we judge people who have set-backs or fail on the first, second, third of ninth try.  Each family who comes to Family Promise, is on their own journey and our task is to walk with them, encourage them and ensure they have the resources to make the necessary change.  I admire all of our families for their resilience and perseverance.  

The Spring Fling is an opportunity for me to make a change.  Honestly, I don’t know if I can get in shape by April 25.  Plus, I am too comfortable and content.  There is a negative voice deep down that is telling me: you don’t really have to do this.  You’re just fine where you are.  We all know that is a lie. Even science is opposed to changed.  As Newton’s first law of motion states that an object in motion wants to stay in motion while an object at rest wants to stay at rest.  I have no idea what roadblocks may lie ahead.  Maybe my body will give out, maybe I won’t have the will power or maybe my work schedule will not cooperate.   Or maybe it will be smooth sailing and I will have a great experience.  It is impossible to say.  Whatever happens I want to use this experience as a metaphor for the path of change our families are running.    

Would you join me?   If you are a runner already- perfect.  Offer your words of encouragement and sign up for the Spring Fling and encourage your friends and family to join us.  If you are not a runner and want to try let’s do this together!  You can follow my progress on social media and seek support for your struggles and affirmation for your achievements.  If you have zero interest in running, that is OK too- join us for the walk or make a donation to Family Promise to support families who are focused on making a significant change in their own life.

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.