Opportunities, Jesus, and a hundred What-Ifs

A year ago we were living in Omaha; my husband was the choir director at a huge school, and I had just left my full-time career teaching high school English. We were adjusting to being a family of four with two special needs kiddos from foster care that required more of our time and energy then we thought. On top of this, we were facing uncertainty about our careers and whether or not we should stay in Omaha. Fast forward a year later and we are living in my husband's hometown, three houses from a cornfield in an area where, on a clear night, the stars are penetrating and the silence is noteworthy. I am working part-time, and my husband is teaching middle school music where his only outside of school commitments are a two-month show choir season and only two concerts a year..which seems like he's working part-time compared to all of his previous teaching gigs. Our schedules are more free and flexible than they ever have been before. And during one of my quiet reflection moments a few months ago, I reflected on all of this and felt like we were suddenly in a season of opportunity. 

Not my arms. Not my Bible. 
Immediately, I begged God to spare me from opportunities that required me to be social because I am AWKWARD and introverted. While God is pretty nice and all, it became clear that he was pulling me towards opportunities to connect with other people. I kept hearing these podcasts about cool ways other introverts were connecting with folks; I kept thinking about all the kick ass people in my life who've come alongside me and connected with me and taught me much about life and Jesus through their actions. Seriously, God bombarded me with these things...if that's not divine revelation, I'm not sure what it is...but all jesting aside, while it's so hard for me to connect with people, I know it's good to do...and really, connecting with others seems like the best way to share God's love. Soon my husband and I started talking about what this all meant for our family. Our conversation went something like this (admittedly....this is embellished...just a little): 

ME: Listen. I know you don't dig your job here as much, but it's nice to have you home more. 
HUBS: Thanks? 
ME: Also, God spelled OPPORTUNITY out in my Alpha-Bit cereal this morning. I'm pretty sure he's trying to tell me that now that you and I are free more, we have more opportunities to, you know, do good stuff. 
HUBS: He did not spell that in your cereal. 
ME: You're right. I don't even know if they sell Alpha-Bits anymore. But still....opportunities. Let's do more good stuff...you know, for Jesus. Let's invite all of our neighbors over for ice cream. I'm pretty sure Jesus would do that.
HUBS: (without even batting an eye because he loves me and goes along with my crazy...) Ok. Let's do it. 

This week we're hosting our first neighborhood party. Next week we're flying to the moon to plant space gardens and grow moon cheese...for Jesus. Just kidding. But I did come across a service opportunity at church: Marriage mentoring. On a whim, I emailed one of the church leaders about it, and on Sunday we walked out of church with an application to complete to become marriage mentors to newly engaged or newly married couples. 

And now that we have the application in hand and the church knows we're interested...now I'm freaking out because what if someone from the church who barely knows us reads my blog and realizes that I don't always write about Jesus or that I have a habit of swearing? What if they ask me to recite the scripture I memorized this week and I accidentally give them a quote from Joe Dirt (seriously, why is David Spade in a mullet so funny?!?)? What if they ask me what I'm reading in the Bible and then I'll have to tell them that I'm reading through a plan on my Bible app because my attention span prevents me from reading a whole chapter each day? What if they find out that I am a hot mess and see a therapist? And what if they say I can't do it because I was baptized as a baby and did my profession of faith as an adult in a Lutheran church? I'm freaking out because what if they accept our application? 

I am terrified to get involved with the church because it requires me to be vulnerable with Christians, and Christians (though I am one and have been one since 2004) have always intimidated me. It's safer to engage from a distance. But.....I realize that God doesn't call us to be safe. Because I'm terrible, I don't have a scripture verse to support this....however, when I  consider the lives of Jesus and Paul and David and Ruth and Abraham and many others, I am reminded that God calls us to live risky, antithetical lives. He approves of this kind of living when it's done to bring Him more glory and honor. And save for Jesus, these people weren't perfect...and neither am I. The work I'd be doing with this marriage mentoring isn't meant to please others...it's meant to please God...an opportunity to direct more people to Him (1 Thess. 2:4). So, despite a hundred 'what-ifs'-I think we'll submit our application to become marriage mentors. Maybe we won't be a good fit for this opportunity--but at least I can say that I took a risk and tried to take an opportunity to connect with others for Jesus....


Stacy Harrison said...

Are we the same person? Awkward introvert, foster-adoptive mom, writer, former-English teacher, terrified of judgment from Christians (my husband is a youth pastor!), yet called to minister to the church...

We are in our last week of leading a marriage group study, and the fact that our marriage has been far from perfect actually made us better leaders. No one wants a leader who has never screwed up. Everyone wants a leader who is human and honest. Based on what I've learned about you from your writing, you are the exact kind of leader the church needs. You're gonna do awesome, Danielle!

Always enjoy your posts.


Danielle said...

Stacy--we are likely sisters from another mister :) Thanks for the encouragement!

Karen Johnson said...

Love this! I have a similar history / relationship with church & Jesus. Thank you for sharing your real, honest story.