Reflections on Growth and Gratitude

I’m a complicated person.  Although I consider myself to be relatively introverted and shy, people tend to see me as someone with a gregarious personality; outgoing and outspoken, and maybe even a little bit sassy.  It’s possible that I am all of those things, or as one reader offered via email today:

“You are fearlessly compelled to give your audience the fullness of yourself.”

I thought about that a lot today.  That one line was echoing through my mind as I went about my mundane daily routine.  There are so many things about that sentence that I have a visceral reaction to, and yet I enjoy it just the same.  For instance, I would never put myself and fearlessness in the same sentence.   I think many in my audience might be shocked to know that I am still a nervous wreck before every episode.  I mean, full on panic mode.  I worry about whether I’ll be able to do justice to the subject matter, if I’ll be able to think of compelling questions for my guest, if I will say something that makes me sound foolish, or if I’m even qualified to be doing the show in the first place.  I suffer from the podcasting version of stage fright.  I tend to panic right up until the moment I connect with my guest via phone or Skype, and then… in every instance… it all just fades away as soon as the “recording” light begins to flash.  Then I am in a zone, ready to engage, loving every minute of it.

But, I still worry that I’m not smart enough to be tackling the subject matter that I tend to take on.  I am not as well versed in Biblical matters as I’d like to be.   My enthusiasm for scripture and church history and apologetics and prophecy grows with the dawning of each new day and yet… sometimes I feel inferior to most of my colleagues.  I am not fluent in “Christianese”.  I wonder if I’m too silly or too simple.  These thoughts do not consume me, but they are present.

For a listener to come away with the perception that I am fearless was quite jarring for me.   I suppose it is true that in my writing and in my programming I do tend to just err on the side of being myself, if for no other reason than I just don’t know who else or how else to be.   To try to put up a front or create a false persona sounds endlessly exhausting!  The fact that I’m writing these very words might be evidence of my near pathological desire to share intimate portions of myself with my Extraordinary Intelligence family.  And it is only fair, because every day I receive emails and messages from people sharing their hearts with me.

Today has been a day of revelation and reflection.  As I worked on some website maintenance today, I was perusing the site stats and in an instant I was overwhelmed with conflicting emotions.  I started this site years ago and started the Beyond Extraordinary podcast just over one year ago.  In that time, the site itself has received multiple millions of hits, and the podcast now generates thousands of downloads per episode, while the site continues to receive many thousands of visits per week.  All of this information should put me over the moon, and to a certain extent it does, but it also makes me feel a tremendous amount of responsibility.  I feel that, for whatever reason, the Lord has given me this relatively large platform, and I want to make sure I do it right, never losing sight of the fact that it should always be for His glory, and no one else’s.  Not mine. Not that of my guests.  I do this because I feel called.  I do this because at least for now, I feel that this is what God wants me to do.

As I pondered the sheer numbers of people who tune in to my shows and who read my articles, I recognized that the fear that I often feel… fears of foolishness or rejection or failure… are very self serving and in a twisted way are quite prideful.  As if any of this has anything to do with ME.  It is not me driving this machine, but God.  It is God who wipes away the anxiety when the podcasts begin.  It is God who gives me the words to express the things that I do in my writing.  It is my Lord who cracks me out of my introverted shell and gives me the confidence each day to continue this mission that He started, not me.

My goal as I go forward is to devote more time to prayer and reflection, seeking His direction rather than leaning on my own understanding… or lack thereof.  I am grateful that He has put me in this role, and I intend to do my best for Him and hopefully it continues to reach others in a meaningful way.  Perhaps even my silliness and singing and sassiness has a role to play.  Maybe? 🙂

I have been humbled time after time since I began this “ministry” (for some reason I still don’t feel comfortable with that word – it seems presumptuous).   I marvel at the kindness and generosity of those who have found some value in what I do.  Let me assure you, I have received far more benefit from all of you than the other way around.   I thank God that you all have allowed me to be myself, and have helped me come to learn more about myself and most importantly, about our Savior through this journey.   I’m so glad that we get to do it all together.  Thank you.  I love you.

My cup runneth over.