Removal of Intimidation and Fear
Walking in for the first time, anxiety can quickly sweep over you. Your breath quickens, your heart races, and you keep your head down so as to not make eye contact with anyone.
This is how I enter new places. Before I go anywhere new I look them up online. I want to see the place before I ever go near it. I want to become familiar with the surroundings, the products, the food, the expectations—anything I can to feel comfortable and informed when I walk in for the first time.
But all the research in the world doesn’t take away every hint of fear. When I arrive I become dependent on a greeter, a clerk, a waitress, a host to point me in the right direction, to give me the next step in a line of expectations.
When I was in seminary in Canada, there were subtle differences I learned about the culture of my new town that often caught me off guard. My new town in the remote prairies of Saskatchewan took their shoes off EVERYWHERE. It was the strangest thing. Even a trip to the chiropractor involved taking your shoes off at the door and placing them on a little rack. You would enter the office in your socks. In the summer if you were wearing flip flops, you would remember to bring a pair of socks so that you wouldn’t enter barefoot. I was happy to go places with my new seminary friends who could point out these things to me. I could have insulted many had I not known! I definitely was not prepared for the small confrontations when I missed subtle social cues like the shoe removals. I wrongly entered many places with my shoes on to the horror of any onlookers.
At one of my very first visits to a house in Canada, my worship professor who had spent time in U.S., showed me the best possible hospitality I can remember. I entered their house and they quickly pointed out the next steps: “You can hang your coat here. Shoes can be placed over here. If you need a pair of socks, we have some extras right here. When you’re all done, we’re gathering in the living room. Just find a spot on the couches and we’ll start with some light conversation before dinner.”
Their directions weren’t given in a military state of ‘do this and do that,’ but just a gentle guide to help me find comfort in their home. With a few opening comments, I knew what was expected of me.
As an introvert (and in case you didn’t know this about me, I score about as far over on the introvert scale as possible!) these kind directions removed a great deal of fear from my visit to their home. I was welcomed, received, and informed.
Every Sunday we have the possibility of welcoming, receiving and informing others in our midst. We do this because God has extended us the same invitation: We are welcome in His house, we are received in gentleness, and His Word makes it clear what expectations He has of us. At first God seems intimidating, but as we get to know Him, that intimidation is removed and comfort replaces it.
But what a big hurtle fear can be in the process! But as God has welcomed us, we get the supreme privilege of welcoming others in His name.
Director of Worship & Media