I like to communicate. A lot.
I love speaking and leading workshops – in fact, it’s my favorite part of my job as a public health nurse. Hand me a topic and a microphone and I’ll have at it with pleasure. (In a way this blog feels a bit like a microphone but I digress)
I do all my speaking in a non-religious context. While I’ve gone across the country to speak on culturally responsive health care or patient navigation and community health workers, I am never asked to speak about faith. Ever.
Truth be told – this is hard for me. I long to communicate my faith across boundaries and barriers and I’ve long prayed for opportunities. But they have not come and I have slowly realized that it’s okay. Very few people who are regularly asked to speak in faith circles have the speaking opportunities that I have in my professional role, the opportunities to connect with people from a broad spectrum of beliefs and world views, and I need to continue to embrace these opportunities doing them as well as I know how.
But in the spring, the seed of an opportunity came and, with my husband’s encouragement, I decided to move out in faith and see what happened.
Let me explain. For about four years now I’ve been involved in the Alpha program at a church in a nearby town. Robynn has written before about Alpha, but to recap – Alpha is a program to introduce people to Christianity. It is based on a lot of listening and an environment that values questions, even and especially the hard ones. A church in Goa, India asked the church here to send a team to teach them how to do the Alpha program. A ‘train the trainer’ if you will. The trip would involve going to India and introducing the Alpha program through live demonstration talks and discussion.
So I applied and was accepted to be a part of this team. The visa is stamped into my passport, tickets are purchased and I’m going. Tomorrow.
I didn’t know when I applied what I would end up doing, I didn’t know if I would end up working on the sidelines or speaking. It turns out that I will be speaking along with a few others. The leader has asked me to do two talks – One is “How can we be sure of our faith?” and the other is a practical talk on presenting the Alpha program.
But here’s the deal: Now that this dream of communicating faith,communicating what I believe to be the most important thing in the world, is a reality – I have lost my words. I sit down to prepare my talks and fear creeps up like a figurative hives rash and suddenly I’m itching and red and so uncomfortable. My breath starts coming faster and I realize I am panicking. What is this about?! I can do an interesting talk about a vacuum cleaner if you ask me, make people want to buy that sleek, expensive Dyson. In fact, they’ll be lining up for back orders.
But this, this most precious, beautiful story of a faith and how to be sure of it and how it matters….tongue tied, fingers paralyzed, mind spinning.
I always thought I’d be ready for a dream becoming a reality. But here I am, confessing before all that along with the dream becoming a reality is a fear. A fear of inadequacy, a fear that I will not communicate clearly, a fear that I will not do this amazing topic justice. A fear that deep down I am an impostor, uniquely unqualified.
In the middle of this I looked back on a blog post I wrote a year ago. It’s called “And Failure Comes on Like a Virus” and I said this:
“…truth is that I join the “march of the unqualified”, that group of people I read about who were inadequate, who failed. The King who stayed home from battle and slept with another man’s wife; the prophet who ran from the call of God and ended up in the belly of a whale; the man raised in the Pharaoh’s household who said ‘I can’t do it! I can’t speak! Let my brother speak for me’; the woman who said ‘Let’s trick your dad into thinking you are your brother so that you can get the birthright’.*
All these, uniquely unqualified, somehow survived the virus of failure, and were met by God, were used by God.”
The panic slowly dissolves in what is overwhelming Grace. This fear? It’s grace in disguise – the best thing that could have happened to me. It places me solidly at the mercy of God. It brings me to my knees (literally) and I beg God to give me words, words that bring glory to God.
I have no idea how this will go, but I know a couple of things:
- God is so much bigger than my words
- I am so much smaller than his Work.
- Over all of this – the visas, the plane ride, the funding, the preparation – is a blanket of Grace that reminds me God is in the business of using the unqualified.
And there you have it.
Readers – I’m not sure how much I’ll be writing from Goa – I hope to do a few updates so stay tuned and thank you for tuning in to my fears and his Grace.