As a kid, I was terrified of getting shots. (Who isn’t, right?) But, one year, when I was 10 or so, the phobia started to fade. I gripped Mom’s hand, scared as ever, and the nurse told me to pick something happy and focus on it. I started to run through a mental rolodex of happiness: puppy, ice cream, Disney World…
“Ready?” the nurse said.
A little prick pinched my upper arm. I don’t think I noticed.
Christmas, cartoons, cookies…
“All done!” the nurse said, smoothing down a happy Mickey Mouse Band-Aid.
“I didn’t say I was ready!” I replied, laughing. I hadn’t even selected my happy thing to focus on.
I didn’t think I was ready. But, thanks to the initiative and gentleness of the nurse, it turned out I was already doing the very thing for which I thought myself so unprepared.
In life, I’ve realized, I never think I’m ready. Maybe you do this too.
I don’t have enough training or experience for that job, we think. I don’t have enough money for that opportunity. Not old enough. Not confident enough. Someday maybe. But not yet. I’m not ready.
This year, I’m doing an internship program (the Beecherl-Corrigan Fellows Program) that I introduced here. Fellows Programs like mine focus a great deal on preparing young adults to be ready for the “real world” so to speak, specifically stating online: “A Fellows Program is an intensely practical nine-month experience designed to prepare recent college grads to live seamless lives of faith.”
Before this program, I didn’t feel ready to start actually acting on the goals that I’ve sensed God calling me to; I didn’t feel ready for seminary, for ministry, for the possibility of a big move to an unfamiliar city.
Two months in to this Fellows Program, do I feel ready? No. Absolutely not. And yet…yes.
Like when I got the flu shot as a kid, I don’t feel ready. But, thanks to the initiative and gentleness of God, it’s turning out that I’m already doing some of the very things for which I thought myself so unprepared! Fellows are taking a seminary class, working, navigating unfamiliar places, meeting new people — and it doesn’t even require a Mickey Mouse Band-Aid.
The fact is we’re not prepared for everything. But we can’t let that make us paralyzed from doing anything.
In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul describes how to effectively live this balancing act of being unprepared on the one hand and pressing forward on the other hand:
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
It’s like God says to us: You’re right; you’re not ready. But I am. And I’m with you. Ready or not, here we go.