Returning Anxiety

When I was a young man, on Sundays, those last ten minutes of the drive to church I'd start to get nervous.  I'd get a real bunch of butterflies in my stomach, anticipating that soon I'd be amongst peers.

I hate that feeling and I have worked disciplines into my life over the years to combat that 'fish out of water' anxiety.
I have tested those disciplines by purposely throwing myself into situations that have made me uncomfortable.  I have tried public acting, performing on stage, serving behind the scenes, running audio for church.  I have played football in college, and basketball knowing I was no good at it.  I have held on to one motto:

"Never let being bad at something keep you from doing it.  If the only reason you have NOT to do something is because you're nervous, that's a bad excuse not to do it."

I have tried a great many things that would normally make me quite nervous, and each time I have pushed myself passed it.

From riding my first upside-down roller-coaster to moving to Papua New Guinea.

Stepping outside my comfort zone has become a way of life for me, and it is almost always accompanied by a strong sense of queasiness. 

Through years of hard work, I have turned that reaction into a tool.  Now I know, if something makes me nervous, it might be worth doing.
If the idea of taking on a new venture DOESN'T bring that sensation to me, then maybe it is because it is boring and not worth my time.
If the idea of doing something DOES, then maybe it'll be a challenge, and I'll learn some new skills and get excited by it.

In front of me now, are two such challenges that I'm committed to overcoming.
The first is a new job.  A position of leadership.  Something I've never aspired to.  I have no desire to be responsible for OTHER people.  I have me, and my family and that is enough for me.  Being the man who other people turn to for help, guidance and being an example, makes me nervous.  That nervousness is how I know it is a job worth doing well.

Also in front of me, is returning to PNG where there are a lot of new and young faces.  Hip kids, cool kids, just like those days back in Sunday School.  The idea of trying to integrate and make new friends, forge new relationships brings back the butterflies.

We've been telling our kids for years as MK's 'always be making new friends, always be welcoming to new faces, your friendship may mean the world to them! So keep stretching yourselves.' 

Well now the shoe is on my foot as well.  I will be modelling this for my kids as I try to extend myself to making new friends.

My wife and I have committed to always be forging new relationships.  Never closing ourselves off to new people.  It means keeping a wound always open, never putting bandaids on it.  IT means you may end up saying tearful goodbyes more often than not.  But you never know what God will bring about through relationships.  It is truly a discipline.  Our status quo would say 'they'll be gone soon, so why bother with the pain?' 

To me this is the epitome of Agape love.  Putting yourself out there, means that you're giving of yourself.  Each new friendship takes something away from you, and sometimes it gives back.  My interpretation of Agape is, whenever you reach out to give of yourself, there is always something available to give.  Even when you don't think there is.  That's the miracle of it, God is supplying the material you have available to give.

There is always a part of you, available to love others.  Agape.

You don't have to be a missionary to understand that.  It is easy to get socially isolated in your own home country.  God blesses us through people.  Even in times of hurt, when you want to retract, I would challenge you to reach out, and make friendships that you can share Christ's love through.