Every Thursday at school we have Faculty Lunch; each faculty/staff member has their own table and students are assigned a table on a two-week rotation. I was unaware that house counselors were included in this tradition, until one day a girl came up to me and said, “Kate, I was at your table, but you weren’t there!” I responded with a professional, “Say what?!” I don’t know if I somehow missed this piece of information during my orientation at the beginning of the year or if the powers-at-be forgot to mention it, but either way, I have never been. My first reaction is to blame someone else for not telling me, but it is far more likely that I simply forgot. Oh, it’s not that huge of a deal that I’ve never gone because apparently none of the other house counselors do, save one (who works at the school during the day).
But as a lover of high school girls and Jesus, I am excited about this! I’ve been thinking for months now that I would like to get to know more day students and reach out to them. I know that lunch is a perfect time to do that, but it’s a pain to leave work for 30 minutes or so and go back afterwards. I would just rather bring my lunch to the office and do my thing. I’m selfish, basically. And I have justified this selfishness by the fact that I live at the school so I’m always around kids. My contact work (the time YL leaders spend with kids outside of club/campaigners) is built in, so I don’t make myself branch out as much. I love to attend events at school and I’m going to start watching practices every now and then, but being here is just different than being at a public high school. Contact work looks different – but I’m starting to think it really doesn’t have to. Just like leaders at other schools, I can attend lunches, games and practices. And have the same fear of rejection as they do.
It just strikes me how easily I let that fear overtake me and give into the temptation to stay in my comfort zone. This has become more apparent to me the older I get – I’m alone a lot of the time and so my first instinct is to choose solitude over interactions with people. Maybe I’m more introverted than I realize (well…not really). I create a nice, warm bubble for myself and stay there. And I pull away with a grimace when I sense the Lord trying to pull me out. Especially with high school kids – it will always intimidate me to talk to new girls and be bold with them. But when I do step out of my safe cocoon, I find I am blessed by the new thing I tried or the new people I met. My soul feels lighter.
Kind of like when I get ready to go for a swim. I’d much rather stay in the warmth of my room and take a nap – and when I first get in the pool, it’s cold! But as soon as I start to take those first strokes, I’m glad I went. I warm up quickly. When I step out of my comfort zone, it can be cold and a little shocking at first…but God meets me there and I quickly become warm and refreshed. It’s like the joy-power Tim Keller talked about. I will have the courage to go out and meet new kids if my eyes are fixed on Jesus, because sharing the gospel with them will be my ultimate desire. Just like going for a swim changes my body and makes me healthier, so I go even when I feel tired and lazy. If I set my heart on the higher thing and the ultimate goal – if I make Him my joy – I will have no problem diving in.
So, having said all that, I went to lunch today! It was great. I sat with my girls and we talked and laughed. I’m glad I went. I met some new kids, made some new connections. And what do you know, my soul feels lighter, healthier. I love that God gently nudges me (and ok, sometimes pushes me) into new experiences. And I know that He’s always there on the sidelines, loving me and cheering me on.