Fourteen. That's what the number on the back of my nametag said at the women's retreat I was attending at my new church. I knew it represented either a group number or the opportunity to win a door prize. Desperately I was hoping for the door prize. Send me home with a flower, a book or even a cute bracelet. But please, oh, please don't make me talk to strangers.
I am an extreme introvert. Just going to the retreat and rooming with five women I was still getting to know was a big step for me. The thought of being put into a small group with even more new women was something I thought would surely kill me.
When they announced it was time to play a game I immediately began looking for the exits. Nobody else moved. If I got up and walked out it would have been obvious. Inwardly I groaned. The game was called Fast Friends and I would have to sit in not one but three small groups and chat with strangers that night. My first stop was group fourteen.
Jean E., the leader, seemed friendly as she introduced herself and explained how the group would work. We would go around in a circle and say our names, our hobbies and how long we had been attending the church. Suddenly my mind went blank and I forgot everything I liked to do for fun - everything, that is, but the one thing I normally don't talk about in large groups of strangers.
When it was my turn I heard myself say, "My name is Shannon, I've been at the church since October and I'm a writer, so I like to write."
"I like to write too," Jean E. said drawing me out of my shell. "What do you write?" I gulped.
"Non-fiction books for teenage girls," I said wanting to fall through the floor. I knew what was coming next so I answered before she could ask. "I've published ten books in the Christian market."
Suddenly multiple people wanted to talk to me at once. Thankfully, it quickly became someone else's turn. I typically don't talk about writing in first encounters with people because I feel nervous enough already. Talking about what I do tends to draw me into long conversations when I'm already trying my hardest not to hyperventilate.
When it became time to switch groups Jean E. quickly told me about an article she recently published and promised to look for me later during the weekend to talk about writing. I looked forward to it since I prefer one-on-one settings. Sadly, the weekend passed and I never saw her again. But that encounter had fueled my enthusiasm for my new church.
With no way to contact Jean E. - and no recollection of her last name - I went on about my daily life once I got home wondering about her article and where I could find it. A few weeks later, in my quiet time, I asked the Lord to provide a writers' group for me within my new church. Since writing is lonely business it would be great to have that support. That very day Jean E. emailed me. Thanks to Google she was able to find me easily.
I eagerly responded to her message with an invitation to coffee. She quickly wrote back accepting and inviting me to join a brand new writers' group she was starting up with some other women in our church who had been published. As soon as I read her message my eyes filled with tears.
God took me outside of my comfort zone when He forced me to play Fast Friends. But He knew what He was doing when He assigned me to start in group fourteen. Little did I know then that I would meet a friend who would become an answer to one of my prayers. God was calling this introvert into community and He did it in the most uncomfortable way.
Great things happen when we follow God outside of our comfort zones. When we trust what we know to be true about Him and choose to ignore our feelings of insecurity or fear, God can take us to places we never dreamed we could go. It was only after God brought me to a place where I didn't want to be that He could take me to a place I truly longed to be.
The same may be true in your life today. Where is He calling you out of your comfort zone? Will you choose to trust Him or are you going to miss out because you are focused on fear and insecurity?
Hebrews 11:8 "By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."
Shannon Primicerio really does like people even though meeting them in large groups isn't her thing. The other hobbies she momentarily forgot include reading, watching baseball and going to the beach. You can learn more about her at www.beingagirlbooks.com
© 2010 by Shannon Primicerio. All rights reserved.