Beep beep beep. The shrill sound echoes throughout the minimalist concrete room.
My friend Bre and I look at each other, feeling like criminals in between these doors at Urban. I wait for the store clerk to come over and vindicate us. We paid for this "Happy Birthday" banner, pore mask and deep-v tee; I promise.
Bre finds a sensor on her shirt and we go back to the counter. "Whew," we both say, because that really would have been the end of the world. Truly. Nothing kills a birthday outfit like a sensor.
The store clerks are quite chill about the whole situation. And by chill I mean that nobody moved. We stand at the side of the counter, waiting for assistance. A couple of minutes goes by, a couple more minutes goes by, and we just continue to wait as the line behind the counter grows.
This nice looking man walks behind us, piled high with shoes and shirts, walking deliberately as if he's on a mission to re-stock the shelves. And I think, I have two options here. I can watch him walk by and continue to stand here (safe), or, I can speak up in front of this line and ask this man for help (quite daring).
"Excuse me," I say, confidently. "Could you help us with this sensor?"
He looks at me.
The line of people look at me.
And he says, "Uh, actually, I don't work here."
And I feel like saying, "Alright, I'll just go die now, thanks."
It was such a small moment. But it got me thinking about what that encounter sub-consciously taught my brain.
It was teaching me that stepping out = embarrassment.
It was teaching me a pattern of behavior to remember for the next time I am confronted with (safe) vs (quite daring). My brain will tell me - yes, but do you remember the time?
That time you spoke up, and said something stupid?
That time you went for it, and failed?
That time you exposed your heart, and were humiliated?
That time you jumped, and fell in front of everyone?
And I remember this quote, "If you are never scared, embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take chances."
Taking risks means different things to different people. But if you don't take the small ones - like speaking up in that meeting, asking the waitress for that side you really want - how will you take the big risks?
If you don't take small risks, how will you take the ones that mean the difference between a fulfilled life in pursuit of your calling or just a life of mediocre comfort?
I think about the "greats" of the Bible:
- Noah was shamed when he was building an ark.
- Moses was scoffed at when he returned to demand freedom.
- Jesus was mocked on a cross.
Maybe doing what God calls you to do does not save you from embarrassment. Maybe, instead, it actually leads you into it.
Risk = faith, faith = risk.
You can't have one without the other.
If you're anything like me, you're thinking - well, that doesn't sound like much fun. Why would I want to follow God if it's almost sure to lead to some sort of embarrassment, vulnerability and humiliation?
If you look at the short term - then sure, no way.
But if you look at the long term:
- Noah - When the rain started to pour, his family was the only one that was saved across the entire Earth
- Moses - He rescued an entire nation out of slavery, split the Red Sea, had an intimate relationship with God
- Jesus - He made it possible for us to go to heaven
Will you venture into the unknown, where you feel this inexplicable pull, or will you stay where you are, where it is safe, comfortable? Where you know you won't be embarrassed. Where you know you won't have an entire line of people look at you like you're an idiot when you ask this man to help you with a sensor and he was just trying to buy some shoes - actually, a lot of shoes. But that's neither here nor there.
I'm learning to re-train my brain.
Did I say something that didn't come out perfect? Good. It means I spoke up when I was unsure. It means I had something important to add, and I didn't let the moment pass me by.
Did I make a fool out of myself today? Good. It means I tried something that I knew I wasn't good at. It means I played that game even though I was terrible at it, it means I tried to be friends with someone very different then me.
Stepping into your calling isn't safe. It requires risk. It requires vulnerability. It requires the capacity and strength to handle embarrassment.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7
Until next time,