Last month’s Good News cover letter has been so much talked about that I fear this month’s could never be so worthy of attention; so let us lower our expectations quite a lot. Actually, that’s a pretty good approach to take with most humans, I’ve found. Perhaps that’s worth talking about.
I can remember, in High School—especially at the beginning, as I traveled by subway to a different borough and a completely different group of humans than I had ever been in before—being a veritable puddle of insecurities and low confidence. The kids I was now among were tough; traveled; experienced; bilingual; smart; surviviors; and 75% were older than I. I had no idea what to expect or how I would belong.
Three years later, my friend Kim told me that when she saw me on the subway platform that first morning, she thought I was a snob. This completely shocked me, because no one who has ever known me has thought me to be self-congratulatory enough to be a snob. Snobs, in my High School mind, had something to be proud of. She thought I looked proud? I felt the polar opposite.
How often, since then, I have reflected on the fact that most of us look more intimidating than we feel. It leads to the “imposter effect,” a syndrome in which each individual feels as though they don’t belong to the prestige they find themselves bearing. We both feel and *hide* our insecurities, so that to the outside world we show our confidence—whether or not it exists—and wear our fears within.
Not so in church! And, ideally, not so for the Christian. I think one of our jobs, as we go about life, is to show our vulnerability (what strength that takes!)—to welcome, with our own openness, the confidence and closeness of those around us. We should approach others with a palpable humbleness; we should be the least likely to be called snobs of any.
In my fears, all those years ago, I was mostly rendered incapable of speaking first. I waited like a coward for others to make the first move… and came off, not so surprisingly, looking like a snob. Others should have lowered their expectations, though; if they had seen through me, they would have known how wrong they were. Faith sets us free: to be, as Paul calls it, “fools for Christ”—ready to speak without trepidation, risk ridicule, fall for compassion, act with spontaneity, and love with abandon.
Be well, pray often, and do it all with love.