Yes, I'm the girl who got a concussion playing ultimate frisbee, broke her nose playing sharks and minnows, sprained her ankle on a first date. The girl who was actually referred to physical therapy for being accident-prone.
But for once, it's not that type of "clumsy" that I'm talking about. The type of clumsy I mean is referred to in Exodus, chapter 4:
But Moses pleaded with the LORD, "O Lord, I'm just not a good speaker. I never have been, and I'm not now, even after you have spoken to me. I'm clumsy with words."This passage comes soon after Moses' call in the wilderness (pop over to my flat-mate Anna's blog for the particularly insightful discussion of Exodus 3 which inspired this post). While I don't have Moses' stutter, it is difficult for me to share my faith with a crowd (remember that post about avoiding seminary?). I always feel that things come out wrong or I'll say something stupid - so I avoid it. My cousin's wife kindly asked me to read a blessing at their wedding last month, and I was touched. But when I realized she meant pray, spontaneously, in front of hundreds of guests... I panicked.
So, I get what you must be thinking: "this girl has essentially signed up to be a missionary for a year, and praying in front of people gives her palpitations. She must be cuckoo for cocoa puffs." (Your inner monologue is so sassy, Reader!)
I know that for the most part, I've kept the tone of this blog light and focused on my preparations and excitement for the adventure I'm embarking upon. But while I've always felt this year as a Young Adult Volunteer has been the response to an unmistakable calling, it's easier to get caught up in the details of the trip itself than to face my very real fears about what will happen when I get to Belfast.
In my previous work with youth, my greatest concerns have been relatively trivial: Will we have enough food at youth group? Would the kids rather play laser tag or go rollerskating? The youth I've had the pleasure of spending time with for the past 7 years have been for the most part happy, privileged and well-adjusted. I don't know how I will be able to reach kids with such a vastly different upbringing.
Together, the Northern Ireland team will be learning to understand and interpret another culture. It's intimidating to know that I still have so much to learn about the community I'll be living in, but we are tasked with bringing an outside perspective to the communities in which we serve. I know that my mission is a ministry of presence - to be there for these kids and make them feel loved and special. But even though I consider it a special gift to love people, that doesn't mean that I know what I'm doing - I have constant fears of inadequacy and failure. I wonder if I can really do anything to make their lives better.
For those wondering, I eventually flustered my way through the prayer at my cousin's wedding with only two or three "ums" (yes, someone counted for me). I let it go to God, and while I still have no idea what I actually said, I survived the experience. People actually came up and complimented me later... I will pretend it was because I said something meaningful, and not that they saw me break into tears as soon as it was over. I figure that with this coming adventure, that's all I can do: put it in God's hands and hope I don't make a fool of myself!