Happy Summer. Does that annoy you? It would probably annoy me. It annoys me when people say “Happy Friday.” That’s not a thing. What I should have said was “I hope you are having a pleasant summer.’ And so I do. But I digress. We’re getting off on the wrong foot, here. Let me start again.
Happy Summer. I’m going to talk at you some. How does this relate to the Module? Barely, if at all. But I needed an article and this just happened, so here we are. Do you have a comfortable couch? I hope so, because I’m about to lay down. A newsletter is cheaper than a shrink.
Allow me to set the scene for you. Earlier this week, a colleague of mine left our company for greener pastures. Not somebody I’m terribly friendly with, but someone I’ve technically known for nine years. Several of my co-workers were invited out for drinks after work to say goodbye. I knew immediately what I had to do: Find a way out.
I don’t really drink, but that wasn’t why I wanted out. I have a deep-seated anxiety that stems from interaction with people. I don’t like talking on the phone, I don’t like making small talk, and I really don’t like going out to be with people. It makes me very uncomfortable.
First I tried to find an excuse. Already made plans? Family needs me? Unavoidable errands? None of those were true, and I don’t like to lie. I was stuck. However, when the question came (“Are you coming out later?”), I replied with the simple truth. “No. I’m not social.”
It’s funny, I have no problem getting up on a stage and performing. I don’t mind giving a Talk and I enjoy my weekly podcast. I’m not even uncomfortable in Small Group, really. Possibly because that is a calling and my role is more of a facilitator than a participant. But ask me to talk with a group of people, and it’s over.
I wasn’t always this way. When I was very young, I would talk to strangers ‘til I was blue in the face. Not sure what changed. Maybe my experiences in school played a part. I was bullied and made fun of, you see, and I can see how that would not be a fertile environment for social interaction. Regardless, this creates a bit of difficulty for me. Yesterday I passed up free pizza in favor of a paid sandwich, because the pizza meant I would have to sit in a room with people and converse casually.
My wife is the polar opposite of me. She can talk with anyone about anything without a second thought. My daughter seems to be the same way. She’s still six, so we’ll see where that goes. I feel bad for them. I know that I hold us back sometimes from events that they might enjoy. But I am who I am. Even with my closest friends, I get anxious after a few hours. “What if I run out of things to talk about?” Legitimate cold dread.
I have to wonder if any of the Apostles felt this way. The idea of leaving my comfort zone to go follow some charismatic stranger sounds terrifying to me. I don’t like to leave my house. I can’t imagine wandering the desert for three years with a group of random dudes. I have to think that the Holy Spirit would have helped with that at Pentecost, but it was an awfully long road between Point A and Point B.
I kind of hope that there was at least one of them who suffered my kind of anxiety, and did it anyway. There is comfort in that kind of personal strength. Do me a favor, would you please? If you know of any such Apostle, let me know in the comments. I would sincerely appreciate it.
Okay, enough psychoanalysis. Our hour’s up and I’m sure you have things to do. I hope you are having a pleasant summer, and continue to do so. Take a vacation, go to the beach, hide out in your living room, if that’s what you enjoy. We only get one chance at this thing. Spend it however you think is best. Just please don’t be offended if you ask me out to a friendly engagement, and I decline. It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s just that I’m not social. See you in September.