I can appreciate random and outrageous displays on campus from people who boldly go where no others dare to go.
Asking permission and then commencing to tackle someone else’s snowman in front of them, especially after having watched them labor to construct it, takes a special kind of person.
You have to smile when you see a student in the library excitedly plugging in his new lava lamp, despite the stares. And I am anxiously waiting for some guy to start dressing up in a red striped shirt so we can play a community game of ‘Where’s Waldo?’ in Chapel every week.
I have a friend who feels absolutely no shame in apologizing to a random stranger for her mistake after having run across campus shouting the name of the person she thought it was, cutting him off on the sidewalk and knocking him off his bike.
Some people are too embarrassed to even look up as they pass someone they know because they’re not sure if that person will return their glance. And they definitely won’t say hello, just in case the other person is listening to their iPod and doesn’t hear them or something like that.
However, it’s the shameless people that I feel are empowering themselves to do great things. Many feel justified to mock these people because they have put themselves in this position and the attention – whether good or bad – was something they chose to receive as a result of their actions.
But who do we talk about at the end of the day? We talk about them, and we smile, and we remember, because they lack the staleness that our own polished, non-embarrassing lives possess.
We are missing the remarkable attribute this kind of personality and outlook requires: confidence. Confidence might just be that one defining characteristic that will determine whether or not you engage in a life of opportunities or if you sit and meekly watch them pass.
It seems a lot of things I’ve done boldly were things I didn’t initially want to do but forced myself to do. That’s the thing about getting out of your comfort zone; you actually have to be uncomfortable with your decision to be uncomfortable. If someone asks me to share in front of a group, which I still get nervous to do, it doesn’t matter if I feel like it, God gave me a chance to speak out and I feel I should take it.
People have a fear of receiving negative attention, or any attention at all, and probably rightly so. However, we are called to be salt and light on this earth and salt that would rather hide in its sealed canister next to pepper and light that is scared to ignite because it would rather remain invisible isn’t really doing much good.
It may seem a bit of a stretch to say that those who aren’t playing a game of tag in the business building or offering to pray in the middle of class aren’t really living out their purpose, but it’s more than just being bold or odd – it’s about not being scared to use your voice, not being scared to act.
If you can act boldly in little things, like learning to rip stick in the middle of campus where people can see you fail, then you will be able to act boldly in big things. It’s when I begin to shy away from silly small opportunities that I realize I’m getting farther and farther away from being able to take on the big important opportunities that require even more boldness.
I find it very commendable that some girls on campus choose to go without makeup, even though it makes them uncomfortable, and that guys will ask a girl they want befriend to coffee although they have no desire to date her, because they don’t care what it looks like to outsiders.
I think it is those kinds of attitudes that we really need to cultivate in our community here. It’s an attitude that says we have little regard for our own selves because we prioritize the self we are in God and the self we are in the community above us. You may embarrass yourself when you reach out to another, but the gesture has the potential to change an individual’s life. Why do so many people here feel lonely when there are so many loving people surrounding them? Part of it is the embarrassment we have when we put ourselves in the vulnerable position required to really reach out.
The bottom line is that, although we were raised to protect and esteem our own individual identity, we are letting it get in the way of our real work here. Servants don’t look impressive, but what they do is incredibly impressive.
Confidence is inexpressibly important – not confidence in yourself but confidence in what God can do through you after you lay yourself aside.