This past weekend, I went outside my comfort zone (and I’m so glad I did!).
Let me back up a little. After Mr. Adventure Rich and I moved to Michigan last year, we wanted to start establishing ourselves in our new home by becoming part of the community in little ways. We found groups we were interested in, I re-connected with friends and acquaintances in the area, and we joined a local church.
Community Service Opportunity
Our church is a wonderful community close to our house and we began staying after the service for the coffee and donuts when we could. This fall, it was announced that the church would be holding a “Service Fair” highlighting the various ways one could volunteer for different groups or services throughout the church. The options ranged from providing food for and serving meals after funerals, acting as a greeter, reader or usher during the services, joining the choir, helping with the youth group and religious education, or visiting elderly members of the community.
As Mr. Adventure Rich and I browsed the various options and spoke to the organizers of each Service Group, I found myself coming back to one option in particular… reading during the service. I boldly walked over to the sign-up table, scribbled my name on the sign-up sheet, received a follow-up email and promptly felt my stomach contort itself into a nervous knot.
So, why did I sign up to read? That is exactly what I asked myself before my first scheduled reading! Why didn’t I sign up to be a greeter or usher? Why the heck did I sign up to stand up in front of a couple hundred people every few weekends to read the Bible… which includes some crazy pronunciations?!?
I knew that being a reader at our church would put me slightly outside my comfort zone. Not insanely so, but enough for me to be a bit nervous and want to spend time preparing so that I don’t stumble over my words or get mixed up while I’m up there!
Ultimately, I realized that being a reader would fulfill a few of my current goals and focus points.
Service to God
While I do not often bring up our religious life here on the blog (it isn’t the focus of this blog 🙂 ), our faith is a big part of the Adventure Rich family’s life and our relationship. By reading at church on Sunday, I am able to offer up my service as a prayer to God… my little way to serve him and give back for the incredible blessings on our life.
Service to the Community
Mr. Adventure Rich and I greatly benefit from the various communities we are a part of, including our church community. So, when the announcement went out noting the need for additional volunteers, we felt that offering our service will be a good way to become more ingrained in our community and help others. While I chose one route (reading), Mr. Adventure Rich chose another (preparing food for funeral luncheons).
Outside my Comfort Zone
I don’t often stand up in front of a few hundred people and speak! Sure, I have work meetings that I lead (often over the phone!) and a few presentations I need to give, but I do not consistently put myself “out there” in a tangible way. By volunteering to read, I am pushing my comfort zone boundaries and finding ways to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I am not a bad public speaker. I did well in speech classes in high school and can give solid presentations. But I do not speak in public or in front of crowds consistently. While reading at church is not exactly public speaking, it requires me to flex many of the similar skills (reading clearly and at a good pace, making eye contact, applying proper expression, pauses, and pronunciation). I look forward to honing a few of these skills through this service.
One hesitance I have had with other volunteer opportunities that arise is the time away from family. I already work full time and have committed to several personal goals including running and blogging. My plate is pretty full and I do not want to add more items that take me away from my family for significant periods of time.
Reading at church is a happy middle ground for me. I can prepare for the readings by practicing in front of Mr. Adventure Rich and AR Jr. after dinner. And the actual volunteer time itself takes place during a church service we already attend together as a family.
So… How Did It Go?!?
Better than I thought it would! I was nervous but I prepared by practicing the passage out loud throughout the week, getting used to the cadence and becoming more comfortable with the reading in general. When the time came to read, I was ready!
During the actual reading, I had the something happen to me that I remember from high school speech class. Due to the practice, I was able to keep my voice loud enough and unwavering, but my legs and hands were shaking uncontrollably. I don’t think it was visible to the congregation, but I had to chuckle to myself at the phenomenon 😉
I finished the reading, sat down, and breathed a sigh of relief.
One down… many more to come.
I am glad I volunteered to read at our church and I look forward to becoming more comfortable as time passes. I think this is going to be a great way for me to test new skills, get outside my comfort zone, and serve both God and our church community.
Have you gotten out of your comfort zone recently? What did you do and how did it feel? Were you glad you did? And does anyone have any speaking tips I should know?!?
Always an Adventure,
Mrs. Adventure Rich