For the past 3 years I have gone on a veterinary mission trip to the Navajo reservation. My first year I was excited about the concept of using my veterinary skills to share God’s love with people. I had no idea what I was getting into. I was worried that I wasn’t healthy enough to go. In the end I asked God for a clear cut answer as to whether I should go – if for the last missions class they remembered to video call me in I would go and if they forgot I would take that as a no. They called and I went.
The past 2 years going I have known what I was getting into. I was excited to go and serve and grow alongside amazing team members. I was excited to help people by helping their animals. But at the same time I was terrified that I was more of a hindrance than a help. That my team members just put up with me. That others are much more qualified. For once in my life it seems knowing what I was getting into made me more anxious.
These fears stem mostly from the fact that I am severely introverted and any type of mission trip (or anything really) requires talking with people. And I feel like I suck at it. Especially on these trips. And it makes me discouraged because some of my teammates who have also gone several years in a row have started building deep friendships with the people we meet out their and I feel like no more than an acquaintance.
So I was feeling low after the trip and my passage for my quiet time happened to be this:
I always thank my God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. – 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 NIV
“Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift” . . . God created me with a special purpose in mind. He put these mission trips in my heart. He made me care deeply about people. And He also made me an introvert.
And while that doesn’t mean I give up on talking to people or stop working on my communication skills, it does mean that I don’t have to beat myself up about something that is not one of my gifts.
The team is a body made up of many parts. I tend to envy the extroverts who jump right in to converse with people (while I’m still going over what to say in my head) or do spontaneous things in front of a bunch of people (which I would find embarrassing). But the team also wouldn’t work without those of us who feel more comfortable prepping for the next visit or cleaning up after a meal or offer an encouraging smile.
I also like the “keep you firm to the end” part. It would be very easy for me to say these trips are too terrifying and I’m not qualified so I shouldn’t go next year. But if I did that I would miss an opportunity to grow in my areas of weakness, the team would be missing my strengths, and the Navajo people would miss seeing one more person who cares about them even though we all show that caring in different ways.
Don’t envy other people’s strengths. If I go through life always regretting that I wasn’t created an extrovert it’s going to suck all the joy out of my life and make me useless for God’s plan. I can only fulfill God’s plan as an introvert or He wouldn’t have made me one, so I need to be content with that and use it to the best of my ability.