This weekend, I will attend a local church conference where some rather famous theologians/authors that I’ve been reading will be speaking. As a sometime-seminarian, hopeful future pastoral counselor, and aspiring author, myself, I am enthusiastically looking forward to this conference, despite my relative unfamiliarity with this church or with the local post-conservative, post-liberal religious community in the area.
For the past year, as I have stepped out on this journey to learn from and follow Jesus more closely, I have still been surrounded in my personal life by good folks who hold my old views. I have only limited exposure to those willing to engage the tension that comes with looking at the scriptures through a different lens. I have a bi-weekly meet-up with a local friend who is much more conservative than me, but who is comfortable asking the difficult questions and living in the tension. That study and meet-up has been immensely helpful. Still, I relish the opportunity to hear Brian McLaren, Frank Scheaffer, and Jay Bakker speak and to immerse myself in a community of more like-minded individuals who are on similar spiritual paths.
As an introvert by nature, stepping out into the local community at all has been a challenge. Our moves from PA to Germany and now to Little Rock have put my nerves through the ringer. Whenever I venture into a new place alone, anxiety and insecurity creep in and threaten to overcome my resolve to grow socially, meet people, and explore my environment.
As I think back, I can remember being practically paralyzed at the thought of calling someone I don’t know (which made me an ineffective insurance sales-person). Now that I have children, the so-called motherly-instinct kicked that paralysis to the curb. I now readily pick up the phone to make all sorts of calls to places and people I’ve never dealt with before, hardly even considering the anxious feeling in my chest (yes, it’s still there).
Recently, one of my biggest challenges was finding and actually going to a progressive church in the Little Rock area. I knew the UCC would be a better fit for me, theologically-speaking, so I found one and went on a solo mission to see what it was all about. It went well. I was welcomed, and I think we may have found our church home. I cannot ignore what my history has proven: things always just have a way of working out, somehow.
It is tempting, in the moments leading up to something life-changing or day-changing, to let the fear overcome my better judgement. I think this is probably at least a little bit true for everyone in some way. Some of the best actors in the business are shy and have some form of social anxiety. Many of our greatest writers are/were introverted, but have promoted their books as necessary. Most importantly, though, writers, good writers, put themselves out there with their brave, honest words on the page. That is what I hope to do in years to come. I cannot say if I am qualified enough or learned enough (yet) to write something worthy of publishing beyond this blog and its Facebook page, but I hope someday to have something important enough to say that my words are helpful to someone, somewhere.
Until then, I keep writing here. I keep reading and learning. I keep working to put myself out there, pushing through the fear to find whatever semblance of courage I have and seize upon it.