Summer - literally a new season - also figuratively for me last year. As my husband continued to pursue his master's degree on the Army's dime, our summer last year looked quite a bit different than any we have experienced before. DH was home much more than he was even during the school year, and I had a sense of urgency. The Lord was impressing on my heart that I needed to do more in my life, especially in the area of outreach. I serve my family, I serve at church, but I do absolutely nothing when it comes to serving non-believers. The reason, when I boil everything else down, is because it makes me uncomfortable. Non-believers are very different from me. They talk differently, parent differently, and have vastly different areas of interest. Knowing these things sends my little introverted heart into instant panic mode.
My pastor recently encouraged us as a congregation just to simply start a conversation. I am terrible at this! Everything I think to say to someone sounds absolutely ridiculous in my head so I know it will sound downright foolish if it leaves my mouth! I clam up and run back to the comfort and safety of my house. This leads to a simple going and coming ritual I participate in throughout my day-to-day life.
I like to blame my daughter for this. Since she is still young (preschoolish), when I am out somewhere with her, I literally only see her. I suppose it's some sort of mother bear protection mode or whatever you want to call it. The fact is, however, I honestly do not see people around me anymore. If I were a witness to a crime, and the police stopped to question me, I would be as helpful as a blind person. Seriously. So if I do not even see people, how can I even begin to talk to them? I suppose this is the first step. I need to pray God would give me eyes to see. Then I can pray He will give me words to speak.
I do not know why I am so fearful of talking to others, especially non-believers. I don't even want to tell them about Jesus with the first words I speak. I much prefer to build a relationship first. Yet I am struggling just to do that!
The fact of the matter is though that God has called us to a life of service and sacrifice. Sacrifice to an introvert like me might mean starting a conversation with someone instead of holing up inside my house. Serving others might mean giving of my peaceful, quiet solitude to be among people, listening to them and helping them with their day-to-day lives. Am I not even willing to do that? Have I made comfort so much of an idol in my life that I will not even adjust my schedule or stop what I'm doing to look someone in the eye while in the checkout line? Yes, the truth is, I have.
This is a battle I constantly have to fight. I fought it last summer, and managed to make some gains. However, when we moved this past winter, I am finding that this is still a problem for me. I must get outside of my comfort zone and expand the walls of my world. If there are any other introverts out there, how do you do it? How do you follow the command to go and make disciples? Especially, when you're moving around and constantly starting over - when it can be a struggle just to make friends you are comfortable with, let alone stretching yourself to minister to others. Help, please!