Overcoming the fear of walking

I’ve made a number of excuses for going for a run, or doing any exercise this year so far. Exercise thats involves more than walking around Durham with 100’s of library books, or walking around tescos pushing a shopping trolley. These have been the common excuses for not going out running;

  1. the only time Ive got I should be doing something else more important (even walk the dog, but study has also been pretty intense)
  2. the time i have ive only just eaten
  3. its raining
  4. its cold
  5. the first run after 4 months is going to hurt, and i’m not desiring the pain
  6. the whole changing, showering and recovering time might be longer than the run and is it worth it.
  7. We have enough washing to do, without extra sweaty running kit to get washed

These have been the excuses that have stopped me going for a run this year, or more pertinently since the indulgences of Christmas.  Most of the other new years resolutions I have tried to keep, but the exercise one has been a bit more of a challenge.

My fears & inhibitions about running, and accompanying excuses, ive noticed are matched by an area within youthwork management that has been a struggle for me over the last few years also. That is the fear of walking.

Walking, or should I say, making a path by walking is the metaphor that Horton and Freire use to describe the process of creating something new (and has a book of the same name) , an enterprising making of a new path as it is walked. They use this image to describe the process of education in community, of community liberation.

Walking is to act and make the path.

My problem is that I’m too aware of the dangers of the path. I can picture the fields of corn that would be great to walk through, but I fear unadherance the country code, the farmers dog, or the tractor out of control. And stick wisely to the path already trodden around the edge- subtle changes to whats been done before.

Yet i have many ideas of what that path may look like. I have many ideas, too many ideas. I had many plans for youthwork in Perth, in Ottery, and right now at Durham YFC, and where i live in Hartlepool. Some of those ideas would affect churches, organisations, young people, volunteers and employees. Some never get past the ideas board.

What are some of the things that stop me from walking? and acting some of these out?

Sometimes its lack of resources, young people or finances. Sometimes its fear of change, of challenge or taking the risk. Some ideas may be great on paper, but the process of them coming to fruition might seem too hard work. So, its motivation, or time. Sometimes its a fear that ill get it wrong, or that someone else might be right.  Sometimes its that organisations havent wanted to or been able to walk with me (or vice versa).

Other times Ive been paralysed by the finance question – will the idea attract funding? or create it? – worrying about funding i admit has become a dominant reason. And its a horrible place to try and walk – especially as now I have responsibility for others and their employment, life and job security- or my own.  Its a place that i hate, but one that keeps following me around, a self defeating cycle.  (this is not a plea for money, more an indication of the sector, and Christian youthwork resources)

So, if the field is Durham, County Durham and Hartlepool, what kind of paths are to be made? – for that is where walking needs to happen.

What might it take to start walking, start making new paths in christian youth work & church in County Durham & Hartlepool?  What type of organisations or none are the best to enable this to happen?  What kind of walking needs to occur? What kind of resources might this need?

Where might God be calling me to walk – and have i the trust to overcome fear to follow?

There is that addage that a journey of 1,000 miles starts with one first step. There is a path to be made, can I make it by walking?

Anyone want to join me and walk together…..





Author: James

Currently I work part time for both Frontier Youth Trust (www.fyt.org.uk) and Communities Together Durham (www.communitiestogetherdurham.org) and am also self employed and do various aspects of youthwork consultancy, including training, writing, lecturing, seminars and written pieces, including organisational consultancy, community profiling and detached/youthwork training. Please do get in touch if I can be of help to you in your church, project or organisation to develop your youth and community work. I have contributed to 'Here be Dragons (2013), and two recent articles in the youth and theology journal and 'ANVIL' the CMS online journal. My recent employment includes, working for FYT as a youthwork development adviser, being the centre director at Durham YFC, and before this I was known as 'Mr Sidewalk' as I was the project coordinator for the Sidewalk Project in Perth, where I facilitated the delivery of 5 years of detached youthwork on the streets, schools and communities to engage with young people , and support through alcohol misuse issues. In 2017 I completed an MA in Theology & Ministry at St John's College, Durham, and in 2008 graduated from ICC (now NTC Glasgow) with an honours degree in youth work with Applied theology.

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