This week I had to be brave. I don't particularly enjoy being brave (does anyone?) but here's how it went down.
Our ward is in the boundaries of the newly organized Utah Salt Lake City West mission so we have been asked to participate in a "month of perfection" project. No, this doesn't mean we think we will be able to be absolutely perfect for a month (I find it impossible to manage five minutes of perfection, let alone a full 30 days), the idea is that we have a perfect record for visiting members this month. We are working to visit every single home of every single member on our ward records and remind them that they are loved and also to invite those who don't regularly attend church to come back and meet with us because we miss them and need them.
We were also asked to try to find out why these members don't want to come to church (is it a doctrinal issue, were they offended, do they have health issues that keep them away). We were supposed to see if their struggles were something we (as a ward) could help resolve so that we could help them come back to church and feel more loved and accepted and needed as part of the ward.
So, aside from the sisters that I regularly visit teach each month (sisters that I happen to ADORE!) I was asked to stop by five additional homes. These are homes of sisters who don't choose to come to church so honestly I wasn't really sure how they would respond to my visit and I was pretty much terrified.
You have to know that I am a hermit at heart. I could happily stay tucked into my little hole and only come up for air on occasion. I am intensely shy, although I am also intensely stubborn so I do force myself out of my comfort zone when I need to because I don't want to let the shy side of me take over.
Anyway, I called one of my two best friends in the ward and asked her to do visits with me. I knew she wouldn't think less of me if I made a fool of myself which was highly likely. She is always supportive and agreed to come even though she is just as shy as I am.
I prayed every day (like over and over every day) that I would know the right things to say and that I wouldn't hurt any one's feelings or cause more offense. I went to the temple with the other sisters of the relief society presidency and hoped I could carry a piece of the spirit of that beautiful place with me to further help me through this. I really wanted to let the sisters on my list know that they were loved and that we sincerely wanted them back.
So, the day came, I picked up my friend, Tara, and we headed out. I had spent more than an hour at home that day going over how to word things with my husband (who always knows just what to say and isn't afraid to talk to strangers). I hoped I would be able to handle this without falling apart.
At the first house no one answered the door. I was equal parts relieved and disappointed because while that meant I didn't have to face my fear right this second it meant I had to come back another time and try again. The next house we found the missionaries teaching a lesson on the front porch and opted not to interrupt that.
At the third house the front gate had a padlock on it, but there was a side door so we decided to try that. A cute lady answered the door. We introduced ourselves and told her from the relief society in the ward. We told her how grateful we were to have her as a member of our ward. We said our ward wasn't really complete without all of its members and that we missed having her at church and activities. She said she wasn't really interested in attending. I said I was sorry to hear that and asked if something had happened that had caused her to feel that way, was there anything we could do to to help fix it? She explained that she had been offended by something that happened with the church and emphasized that there was nothing we could do to help resolve it. I apologized, but told her I hoped she would still think about coming back to church, that we missed her, but that we would love her and always be available for her and her family no matter what. We wished her a good evening and headed back to the car.
That's when I was extremely glad I had Tara there. I was a wreck because I tend to momentarily fall to pieces behind the scenes when I am faced with difficult situations, and for me this had been very difficult. She pulled me back together and we went to the remaining two homes, but no one was home at either of them.
I have since talked to all but one of the sisters on the list and it was easier after the first time (don't try to tell me that wasn't a blessing from heaven). I do sincerely feel love for these ladies and will continue to pray for them and hope they feel God's love for them as well.
But here's the point. We all have things we are terrified of doing. Talking to people, particularly people I don't really know, may just top my list. However, I feel very blessed that I have a Father in Heaven who asks me to do hard things. He helps me through them when I ask for help, but doesn't entirely take away the sting of fear because that gives me the chance to grow. It isn't always (or ever) fun in the moment, but I know it helps me become a better person (and boy do I need that).
Being brave doesn't mean not being scared, it means doing the right thing anyway even though you are scared. You can be scared and be brave at the same time. I know I need a healthy serving of bravery, but honestly, I wouldn't be too sad if I didn't need to swallow it any time soon. I know I have a long way to go, but I like the person God is helping me to become.