NLDC SERIES PART 1: “Coming Out of My Bubble”
I was never the “drama” type in high school. I mean, I thought my youth group’s drama team was awesome, but they also really scared me. (I heard so many stories about the embarrassing and gross improv games they played; I think that’s honestly the main reason I never joined.) I’ve always loved watching plays and skits, and enjoy directing family Christmas plays with my siblings, but I was never like, “Oh yeah, I totally wanna be an actress!”
Well, New Life teams had been coming to my house for years. Hannah traveled with them for a year and loved it, and I always thought the people who came to our house were really cool. I knew that joining would be an adventure, so when the opportunity presented itself, I said, “Why not?”
Summer tour of 2011 was my first tour, and I was 20 years old. It was 9 weeks of ministry on a team of 8 people, and we traveled through the Virginias and Carolinas. I liked everybody on my team. I felt like I was the “team giggler”; my role was to laugh at everybody’s jokes and dramatic antics. Though I felt like too much of a nervous newbie to join the 3 girls dancing in the street next to our van as the song “Fireflies” played one night, or even when I turned completely red when the girls gave me a makeover at a hotel and I had to answer the door for one of our guys, I had a thoroughly great time of adventure, ministry and fun that summer. I was told by one of my teammates that when he had seen me at the beginning of the summer, he didn’t expect me to make it because I was so shy and quiet; but he said I had surprised him.
I didn’t travel again until the following spring, where I hopped on almost last minute with a team. During that tour, I prayed and felt God giving me peace about joining full-time. So I went home for the summer to finish out my commitments with my youth group, and then I hitched a ride back to homebase with a team in late August of 2011. Then the adventures REALLY began.
I was put quickly into a leadership position on the teams, and also got immediate training at the homebase offices when I was pulled back to Tennessee for a few weeks. And boy was there a lot to do!
-I learned how to make booking calls and got to see the inner-workings of the NLDC offices.
-I learned how to finance and be a secondary leader
-I learned how to lead services and how to teach workshops
-I learned how to fast, different ways to pray and worship, how to learn, how to follow, how to lead, how to take instruction.
I will expound more on my adventures and what God taught me in my following blogs, but the synopsis is that God has used my experiences to help me grow: both in allowing me to step outside of my comfort zone, and giving me opportunities to do things I always wanted but never got to.
I changed during my time in New Life in many ways. Not in the sense that I “became an entirely new person”, necessarily. But more like, I got the chance to really let WHO I was grow and develop and be seen. The most obvious change I can see is that I’m a lot more comfortable speaking up around people in public settings. It’s not because being silent is a bad thing. Some people are just good at sitting, listening and taking things in. And that is very often what I do.
But during my time in New Life, for the first time I felt like I had a voice. There were people who genuinely cared about what I had to say. I spoke in front of churches… I prayed with my teams… I joined in with dancing and silliness… I was consulted on decisions… confided in as a friend… I spoke up in the van during theological debates. These expansions of my horizon gave me practice in sharing what I believe in and who I am.
I’m no longer the silent senior in high school who was too scared to pray out loud in my Sunday School small group. It’s kind of hard not to come out of your shell a little bit when you have to flail and scream obnoxiously “GOD DON’T SQUISH ME!!” on your knees on a stage in front of a crowd of prisoners…. or when you’re depended on to take a ministry team of 5 young adults and help it run smoothly.
God knows who He created me to be. He knows what and who will help transform me into the person He has designed me to become. New Life was just one big step forward on my journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth. 🙂