🧠 #113: Conducting and speaking

I had a powerful experience yesterday jumping in to do unexpected things in unexpected ways.

These (near) weekly updates share life with OCD as part of my Mental Work Health project to reduce stigma around mental health, especially at work.

A few months ago, I mentioned that I was asked to accept a volunteer assignment at church. I am now serving as a counselor in our bishopric, which is kind of like assistant pastor for our congregation. With no paid ministry, our weekly worship services are different than most—members of the congregation are invited each week to deliver a short sermon.

In the month of June, it is my responsibility to find people willing to accept those invitations, and also to conduct the worship meetings. I asked a few young people to share their thoughts and feelings following a Pioneer Trek simulation they participated in last week, and we had a missionary about to leave on his service speaking to us.

We also had asked all the young men and young women to sing a musical number together. As we gathered a few minutes before the meeting started, I found out that I needed to conduct the song. I had helped them rehearse last week when the lady who was going to conduct was sick, so I had at least had some practice with it, but it came as a surprise.

Near the beginning of the meeting, I had the thought that I should prepare a message to share in case the volunteer speakers went quick, and I scrolled through the Bible on my phone until I found a passage that jumped out at me. As the meeting progressed, I found myself thinking that we were likely to go over schedule rather than my needing to add to program.

When our final speaker got up, we only had about ten minutes left in the meeting, and I felt nervous. There is not a lot I can do in the moment to affect the timing, but since I was conducting the meeting, I felt responsible.

I watched with amusement and slight dread as my youngest broke away from my wife and ran up to the front to sit with me. I tried to talk to her about going back down to sit with Mom when I realized that the missionary was sitting down.

He had only spoken for two minutes.

I stepped up to the microphone and started sharing my thoughts on the verse I had found. One of my older children walked up to the front to grab the three-year-old, who made a break for the opposite side. Reaching back while still speaking, I caught her by the collar and then turned to hand her to my daughter and resumed my message.

Public speaking is a great joy of mine, so I relished the opportunity to jump up at a moment’s notice and share while trying to convey that this was the plan all along. I loved it.

I was journaling about the experience this morning and had the following thought:

One interesting thing is to juxtapose all of that success with the guilt I was feeling personally over being late to my bishopric meeting, having to leave early, missing the youth meeting, and coming back late to [my next meeting].

I realized, “I can add value even without doing everything I could.”

My OCD, and my childhood experiences, often tell me that I have to achieve my way into value. I have to earn love.

But that is not true.

Whether at church or at home, at work or with friends, I can make a difference even in small interactions. I don’t have to seek perfection. I will find small opportunities to serve others and fill a need.

And so can you.

My hope is that we will remember that and give ourselves a little more grace. We are enough, just as we are. And when we recognize that, it is much easier to be comfortable stepping up, as imperfect as we may be, when the situation arises.

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