"It's not my job to convince you of anything today. Either you believe or you don't believe. But I am here to tell you what this day means to me."
And on he went with a series of stories about what it means to have Jesus with him on a daily basis.
Like Pastor Tim, I am not here to make believers out of anybody either - whether from a religious, a sales or a social issues perspective. All I can do is tell stories about what I believe in. And in my case, I believe it's worth it to believe in the gifts I have been given, - whether I'm an introvert or not - enough so that I speak up in timely ways.
Here's what speaking up means to me
Speaking up means I can live without regret.
I had so often lived in fear of saying the wrong the thing as a child. I hesitated to raise my hand in class, hesitated to defend someone for fear I would get the same tongue-lashing as the victim, and hesitated to use my gifts for fear I would be too embarrassed to receive the praise. And in each of those moments, I walked away the worse for wear.
Holding myself back as a child gave me a poor self image. I regretted time gone by without my having the courage to stand in the moment and "face the music". In the moments when I could have stood up to make a difference I let the internal butterflies numb me into place, mute my voice and devalue myself. Only I knew I really could have done something significant but chose not to. Only I heard the tongue-lashing anyway, in my head.
Finally as a teenager I determined to step out of the rut of unbelief in my own abilities and become someone worthy of their gifts. I entered many sporting events, joined choir, band, show choir and soon learned it simply takes practice to stand up and assert ourselves. Next came speech class, drama class, school plays and public speaking. As the activities increased, so did the butterflies, yet interestingly, so did the courage.
Life brings us twists and challenges we cannot predict. In these moments, we must speak up. We must face the circumstances. We must believe in ourselves, and if we don't believe in ourselves, believe in a greater power that is with us.
How do we demonstrate our belief? Well, Pastor Tim would say from our small daily behaviors. From our word and deed. I say, from our willingness to speak up.
Believe me or don't believe me. To me what matters is what I believe about regret and courage. It's not about yesterday, but about today. It's not about tomorrow. It's about now. Now is not the time for me to hold myself back and regret my lack of involvement. Now is the time to speak up and feel alive.