I'm a Giraffe and I'm Okay
Starting a new job, at least so far, has been like walking into the cafeteria on the first day at a new school. There are new people everywhere. And I'm not sure where exactly to sit, who to talk to, and how long to talk. I'm the new guy. As much as I try to be myself, I'm conscious of the fact that I don't want to make a bad first impression. Now fortunately this proverbial cafeteria is a nice one. I haven't been savaged by the mean girl table or mocked by the jocks. Still this first week has been tinged by this creeping anxiety that I am appear as awkward as I feel because I feel super awkward.
Sitting at lunch after church today, these feelings started to fester into a mild panic. What was I doing here? These students probably already think that I am a complete moron. And so forth. These are the kind of things that happen when I don't have EA around to talk me down. Before I went careening down that road, I took a deep breath. I reminded myself that I could do this.
In a way, I feel like a baby giraffe. Baby giraffes can typically walk within an hour of being born and they are off and running by the end of their first day. But there is no creature on God's green earth that looks more awkward than a baby giraffe. They are all gangly limbs and neck. As giraffes grow, their run gains a more graceful gait. They still look kind of weird, because, well, giraffes are kind of weird in the animal kingdom. But that's who they are and they're awesome for it.
I can do this church ministry thing. I've had experiences and training that will help me start walking. But I will probably look conspicuously awkward as I get my legs underneath me. The good news is I'm entering a great ministry. I'm not building it from the ground up. There are already great students and adults there. Even more importantly, God is there to guide me. Because if I try to do it on my own then I might as well be a baby giraffe trying to perform a triple axel on ice skates.
There are going to be moments when things are awkward and all of this is going to take time. But I cannot focus on how awkward I feel. I don't think the baby giraffe gets consumed with thoughts about how gangly it is. They just put one foot in front of another and slowly gain a more graceful gait over time. It's hard to not be self-conscious in a world so driven by how we appear to others. But that gaze on what others think versus who we are or what we need to do can cause us enormous heartache. It makes us forget that God's works are wonderful; even those of us that feel like gangly baby giraffes.
So if you feel awkward, it's okay. More people probably feel that way than you realize. I'm one of them. Just keep being who God created you to be. Keep following your call as best as you can understand. Take things step by step. Grace will increase with your steps. There will still be some awkwardness, but it will be fine. All the more reason to rely on God.