Welcome, Friends

Back in November, I went on a “Shootin’ and Stompin'” weekend jaunt to the outskirts of Southwest Virginia. Damascus may not be as well-known as its namesake in Israel, but it has its own signature heritage. Two of my friends shared their hometown in two fitting activities of the area – skeet shooting and flat-footing.

It didn’t take long to discover that I am not a good shot. Tim explained the logistics of skeet as I ventured up to the shooting range for the first time, awkwardly toting a large gun under my arm. Stand like this, turn off the safety, say “Pull” and I’ll release the pigeon. Take some time to align the gun with the skeet. Then pull the trigger.

Okay, let’s go. I got this.. yeah, in theory I totally did.

I stand, I turn the safety off. “Pull”BANG! Every time the trap released a clay pigeon, an eternity seemed to pass before I pulled the trigger. In reality, I was uncomfortable, had no experience, and shot immediately after the orange flying saucer was launched. Some people are motivated by a challenge like that. To me, hitting those moving targets in the sky seemed unconquerable. I just felt like a failure. Standing around the fire, I complained about how shooting guns and missing the target was no fun at all.

Janie rebuked me. “Jessica, you just don’t like doing something you’re not naturally good at the first time you try.”

She caught me, and she was right. A lot of people there were pretty good with guns. That night, as I eagerly hit the floor on the opening song, it took a little more courage for them to try out their dancing feet and stomp around to some live mountain music.

I tell you this story because of a truth I was reminded of. Ever since childhood, I have been afraid of failure and judgment. I hate not being good at things, and often, I would rather not try at all than feel like a fool. My perfectionism can be so inhibiting. It’s why you don’t see me playing a sport now; I never would try as a kid. Irrational as it may be, this fear is a primary reason I have never begun a blog either. Putting your writing out there for anyone to read intimidates me, and the lies begin flowing. What about my voice? I feel like it changes depending on my audience. Who is my audience? My writing won’t be good enough. I can’t do this. But I am an English major, for crying out loud. I better be able to write a little bit. I’ve got funny stories to tell, travel memoirs to remember, and God questions to mull over. They’re all different, but they’re coming from the same person, so I guess they will be from the same blog.

So thank you, Janie Foster, for calling me out on my fears and helping me set this blog up. It was a good Friday night, friend.

I am almost finished reading the first Lord of the Rings book. This quote is from it, and I think it’s a good reflection of this blogging venture I’m about to begin, as well as the constant call to step outside of comfort and share the Gospel. Blogging seems petty in comparison.

“This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and the counsels of the Great.”

Here I go, stepping out of my Mt. Pleasant/Roanoke Shire. In the next year, I have a lot of adventures ahead of me – flights to Bermuda, Cambodia, and Italy have already been booked. A semester in DC will follow in the fall, and I don’t know how my journey will unfold after that. I am certain of this, though: it will. Life will keep on going, and I will walk with it in fullness and freedom. No matter the physical distance, I want my friends to be able to walk by my side. I’m off, venturing into unknown cyber and real-world territory. I hope you will join me.

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