bout a year ago the General Conference (GC) Communication Department sponsored a lunch for young adults (under 35) who work at the GC. I planned on attending and figured I’d just walk down to the cafeteria the day of the event. But 20 minutes before the lunch was due to commence, something strange happened. I got cold feet. Nerves started to churn in my stomach. I suddenly didn’t want to walk into the room alone. I called a friend in another department and asked if he wanted to go down together.
“I feel so high school, but I don’t want to go by myself,” I admitted.
“I know what you mean,” he replied, chuckling. “I just asked someone else if they were going. We can all walk down together.”
I met my friends and with the power of the group we journeyed down to the event. As we found seats I looked around, discovering that others had done the same—virtually no one had come in alone. Sitting there, I felt a bit foolish for my earlier anxiety. I’m an adult, I thought. I have a job, I support myself, I have children . . . why did I feel small and inadequate? No one here is going to shun me because I’m alone.
It was true. I didn’t need a crowd or an entourage that day—and I don’t really need one any day. I don’t get my self-worth from being part of the pack. I get that from my relationship with Jesus. And while it is nice, I don’t need company to “get the job done.”
Doubt and social pressure don’t go away when you become an adult. Especially for those of us shier creatures who’d rather get teeth pulled than be put on the spot in any venue. Standing out, boldly going is more than a challenge. It is an almost impossible feat.
“Love life—and meet it fearlessly” was my motto for college. I vowed that with the first day on campus I would be friendly to everyone and dole out lots of smiles and hellos. For the most part I was friendlier—and less stressed about being so. This was a big decision for someone who, for example, had such a nervousness about going to first grade that she threw up all over the bus floor as they bumped along to school.
People who know me now would probably not imagine that I am occasionally still afflicted with wild perspiration and a dry mouth when pulled out of my comfort zone. Being bold—and especially being bold for Him—is still tough. But that’s exactly what Christ calls me to do. What He implores all of us to do.
The Matthew 28:19, 20 commission calls us to put aside our fears, our apprehension, and share the good news. And while this is a personal task set aside for each of us,* we can’t fall into a group (read: church) and consider all points covered; we are not asked to accomplish the task alone. Bold or timid, our Savior will not leave us. This is made clear in Matthew’s concluding words. Fellow Gospel writer John confirms this: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18). The rest of the New Testament reiterates this point: we are to boldly go—with Christ.
Back to the lunch: There wasn’t anything wrong with attending in a pack. It would have been peachy if all I needed from the others was a bit of fun. But that wasn’t it: I was afraid to go alone. I didn’t think I could handle what might happen without my social crutch.
Next time a similar situation arises, I hope I remember to take the risk, and that I can step away from the crowd. When I feel those doubts and insecurities creeping in, I need to remember that God is holding my hand, nudging me forward, intent upon His victory.
When we’re going boldly for and with Christ (Eph. 6:19, 20), He’ll help get rid of the nervous stomach and dizzy speechlessness. “Take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you” (Matt. 10:19, 20).
*This is not to say we shouldn’t work together in ministry. There are numerous occasions in which we should.
Kimberley Luste Maran is an assistant editor of the