I’ve always been an introvert. For many years, I suffered from a self-diagnosed disorder called “lobby phobia” that would rear its ugly head every Sunday when I attempted to socialize in my church lobby in between services. The thought of trying to carry on a conversation with a stranger made me want to crawl in a hole. So naturally, I would hide out in our church’s backstage area to save myself the humiliation of asking, “I’m good, how are you?” in response to someone asking where I was headed to lunch that day.
Luckily, a good friend found me hiding backstage one day and began to gently help me break out of my shell. They gave me a challenge to go talk to one person I’d never met before, assuring me that I could immediately return to my safe haven after I’d completed the mission. I could feel God tugging at my heart to step out of my comfort zone and face my phobia head on, so I agreed.
There were two things I realized that first Sunday I stood by myself in the middle of the lobby, awkwardly waving at families passing by.
1. I can’t serve others when I’m hiding.
In Hebrews 10:24-25, Paul says, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another- and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” How can I encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ when I’m neglecting to meet with them? More than that, how will I ever be able to encourage people trying to figure out who Jesus is if I never leave my place of comfort? I found out that the meaningful connection I made with others far outweighed the temporary discomfort I felt from being afraid.
2. My shortcomings were meant to be shared.
Satan often uses our insecurities to convince us that we can’t be used by God, but that’s just not true. What I love so much about God is His ability to use our areas of weakness to help others struggling with the same thing. I had always felt that if I stood alone in the lobby, people might think I had no friends and therefore no worth. In response to that fear, God told me to go BE a friend to someone standing alone in the lobby, to show them they are valuable. God turned my “me” mentality into an opportunity to make someone else feel more at home.
Is there an opportunity to meet a need that you’re missing because you’re afraid to step out of your comfort zone? Is there an insecurity in your life that God can use to help someone who is feeling the same way?
The truth is, God created us for community. So be brave, and watch how He moves.