Thursday, April 14, 2016

When You Are Scared of Being the Only One.

It can be really scary to stand out.

I have a burning desire (maybe rooted in pride) to be completely unique, to be known for something super incredible and amazing, to be courageous and cool. The only drawback is I really hate to be the only person doing something. It doesn't really matter what it is: clapping in church, crying at bible study, laughing at our CC group meeting, wearing shorts when everyone else is in pants. But being original and not standing-out do not go together so well. I'm realizing I have less guts than I thought, but knowing this is also encouraging me to work on bravery in many areas of life. 

Perhaps you have been there, in that halfway empty room, partially filled with new acquaintances or friends you're only a slightly familiar with. The person in charge gets up, makes a few announcements, and starts to lead your group in song. The volume through the speakers is fairly low, and the song is a little out of your range, so you try to sing quietly. So does everyone else. You are committed to not acknowledging the awkward feelings making you sweat. You don't make eye contact. You just keep singing quietly and try to ignore everything else until the song is done. It wasn't pleasant, and maybe you didn't feel incredibly connected to God, but you survived without anyone hearing your voice squeak or crack. Whew. 

Awesome, yes? Ha. 

Why do we think being quiet in those situations is helpful for anyone? Why do we insist on keeping our voices down, lest anyone actually hear us sing? Why are we so afraid to let our flaws be revealed?

Recently I was in a room where it would have been easy to let this happen, a room where this has happened. Only this time, the music was turned up just a little louder. That small difference gave me just another ounce of bravery. So I sang louder, and I witnessed other moms singing just a bit louder too, which made it even easier for all us of to cast aside our cares and praise God wholeheartedly. By setting aside my cares about my voice, concerns over my appearance, and obsession with the mysterious thoughts of others, I was able to see God more clearly, and feel His presence close beside me. What a difference! 

Then I realized, I have the chance to make that difference each week. No matter the volume of the songs, no matter how many other moms sing, I could just sing louder, allowing every other mom the freedom to sing louder without shame as well. 

I thought a little while longer and realized, I have this opportunity in many other areas of life as well. 

Recently, a friend from church and I were chatting at a potluck and before parting ways she asked "What can I pray for you this week?". It caught me a little off guard, as we are not close friends, but I was immediately flattered, encouraged, and convicted. Praying for her had not been on my radar at all! But now here we were, talking about our hopes, desires, and needs, and committing to being on each other's side. 

My friend did what no one else was doing. She might have been nervous or afraid to step out, but her courage spurred my courage, and I have been trying to keep that courage going. Asking how I can pray for some of my friends each week is becoming easy. It comes up in conversation casually, but easily opens doors for vulnerability between friends. And we feel that much more connected as prayers are answered, like we are really fighting for victory together. 

My husband and I also do this with our kids. He prays with them at bedtime and I pray with them in the morning, usually before we get going with our schoolwork. Their requests are a small window into their souls. 

It is easy to look at areas in our life where we want things to be better. We see where other people could stand to speak up or get going, but rarely are we the first person to begin. Why not? It's hard! We are afraid of a million things, like failure, embarrassment, condemnation, puffing ourselves up, separating from the pack, commitment to an endeavor, or even displeasing friends who don't agree. We cannot let these things hold us back. We just need to start. We can trust God completely with the results. 

What have you been wishing for? A friend to bring you dessert? An invitation to a girl's night out? Someone to ask you about your week? Your pastor to notice your gifts? Instead of wishing, try starting. Take dessert to a friend, organize a girl's night out, ask someone about their week, and pray consistently for your pastor and the use of his gifts. Be the first to get started and you will see others rise up around you. Not only will you be glad to see you are not alone, you will be blessed by the responses around you. 

Don't let doubt or insecurity keep you from moving forward. God has been pushing my boundaries and I have been insisting on leaving them alone. When I do this, when any of us do this, we miss out on being more aware of God in our day-to-day lives. We miss out on growth, contentment, and witnessing God redeeming us. As we open up and start moving as God leads, regardless of who else is moving, we see everything more clearly. We see life less as a trial and more as a joy, work less as a strain and more as a goal, and difficulties less as problematic and more as ordained opportunities. So just start. Be what you want someone else to be for you. Do what you wish someone else was doing for you. Sing when you wish someone else was singing with you. Others will come along, and they will be your dearest friends, your comrades in arms, the people you will never want to be without. You will not regret it one bit.

No comments:

Post a Comment