Stretching.

On Sunday, I did two things that were stretching. First, I spoke at church about prayer and the prayer team, inviting people to join. How do I feel about public speaking? Well, if the joke is that most people would rather be the dead person than the person speaking at the funeral, I must confess I’m probably not quite that bad. But it’s probably pretty close.

Anyway, I modified some of the thoughts that I wrote in this post, which meant I was very comfortable with the material. I think that helped. Mike also made me read it to him several times, which I didn’t want to do, but it also helped quite a bit. I also managed not to trip and/or fall, which was good. (I set the bar for these things very low after the liturgist debacle.) People were genuinely complimentary afterwards. Either that or Mike paid a lot of people to pretend to be genuinely complimentary. (So THAT’S where our tax refund went.) My former English professor tried to steal all the credit, which was my personal favorite response. “You did so well! Because you took my classes!” Hee.

And then, that evening, I went and served food at Greensboro Urban Ministry for about an hour and a half. I had been to GUM before, in college, but the help that I gave was on the administrative end, not actually serving the community. Our church cooks and serves there on the third Sunday of every month, and I have never been, which is shameful. I can tell you exactly why I have never been, though – no one ever said, “Come with me! I will show you what to do.” No, the idea was that I had to be brave and show up in a brand-new situation all on my own, something I am, frankly, not so good at. But, this time, because of a team I am on at church, I was required to go. I like that I was required to go, even though it meant that . . . I had to go. But I think it’s important for us to be there – I would always have said that in theory. And I like that I can say it now with conviction.

What impressed me the most about the other people from our church who were there to help was that they did know what they were doing, which means that many/most of those people serve regularly. I liked that some families had their kids involved (some with the cooking beforehand, and some with the actual serving), and that the kids also knew what they were doing. I will go again, not because I am required to, but because I want to help. It’s easy to write a check. It’s not as easy to show up and actually serve the homeless. Alisa and I have had some conversations about what ministry to the poor looks like, and she came along with me last night, as well. I enjoyed experiencing something new with her, as well.

So, Sunday was a day of trying new things. One of the things that sticks out to me is that, again and again, the people at my church have provided opportunities for me to stretch and grow as a person, and when I take those opportunities, they meet me on the other side with nothing but encouragement. That’s huge for me, and I think it shows – despite my fear of public speaking, I volunteered to be the one to speak about the prayer team. They have made it easier for me to take that kind of risk, simply by loving me out of my own fear of failure. I, for one, don’t take that for granted.

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