“Hi! You must be the new…”
“Yes, I’m the new girl. Pleased to meet you.”
What he was trying to find the words for was “You’re the new pastoral associate, right?” but who ever remembers the words ‘pastoral associate’? Can’t blame him for that! Then I go and supply ‘new girl’. If it wasn’t what he was thinking, it was what I was thinking. I’m the new girl, and I feel like it.
Do you remember the last time you did something totally new? The frustration of it not being easy, the excitement of wondering “Could I really do this?” Think of a kid trying to tie her shoes. Before she’s done it, it seems the most impossible task. She tries and tries. Almost gets the loops to cooperate but it slinks down into a tangled mess again. And then! But oh the joy! It happened, she tied her shoes. It seems as if something “just clicked” and suddenly she could. The trying and frustration are washed away in the pride and excitement and accomplishment.
It’s how we learn. We try and fail and try again. Maybe we get better. Maybe we can’t do it until that moment when something “just clicks” and we can’t imagine how it was ever difficult before.
We have so many of these experiences as children, both in life and in school that it can be easy to confuse the experience of learning with the experience of childhood. Maybe that is why as adults we feel embarrassed or angry if we don’t know how to do something we’ve never done before. “But, I’ll have you know I’m a successful [fill in the blank].” It doesn’t matter how successful a doctor or financier or editor you may be. If you’ve never knit before you are guaranteed to look foolish the first few times you try it. It doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to do it in the end.
Maybe that’s why so many people have a hard time praying. It’s foreign. It’s new. It’s a skill that if you haven’t done it in awhile or much at all or if no one has ever shown you how, can be pretty daunting. No one likes the feeling of not knowing what to do. The frustration, the anger, the feelings of being clumsy and unskilled. But yet, isn’t there that hope too? “Maybe I could do this. Maybe…maybe I could like it.” Keep trying. Ask someone to show you how. I had to. At some point, though it’ll never be as easy as tying your shoes, it will “just click”.
So, back to the new girl. I’m feeling all of the things. Frustration and hope, new ways of seeing things, complete ignorance of processes I’ve never even thought of before. I’ve put my foot in my mouth. I’ve kept quiet when I should have spoken. I’ve been carried away by exciting conversations and possibilities. I’ve met new people. I’ve listened. I’ve prayed. There’s a part of me that is whispering, “Could I really do this?” I’m still clumsy and unsure. It hasn’t “just clicked” yet.
I think that in time I’ll be good at this job. I am adequately prepared for it, and I have good instincts. I have a heart for doing ministry and a desire to help people know God. So I have to be patient with myself. I have to learn, experiment, make mistakes, make amends, get feedback, improve.
So for now, I’ll keep putting the left lace over the right one, then under, almost got it! Not this time, try again. I am learning something new. It is exhausting, but boy is it exhilarating too.