“I am nervous about the parade tomorrow.” I said this to myself, to my wife, and now I am saying to to you.
The Journey of Life worship band is going to be riding a flatbed trailer tomorrow morning in the St. Cloud Christmas parade. We will be singing the songs that we are going to be singing at our Christmas Eve candlelight service. I know it’s going to be great fun, but I am nervous. I’ve never done anything like this before. Things are kinda coming together at the last minute. So I am nervous.
That is the point of this blog post. Not my nervousness, but my naming my nervousness and sharing it authentically with others (like you!).
There can be a temptation for a leader to hide his or her nervousness, to stand up and charge forward like the future can be predicted and everything is under control. Well, the future cannot be predicted with certainty — only probability — and not everything is even within my sphere of control. So I’m feeling rather vulnerable as we prepare for the parade tomorrow.
Having read and listened to some of Brené Brown’s work recently (her blog is ordinarycourage.com), I thought I’d try on admitting vulnerability and nervousness rather than simply hiding behind a stoic facade, just to see what it feels like. A little earlier today I said to myself, “Man, I sure feel nervous about tomorrow.” When I arrived home this evening, my wife asked me how I was feeling and I said, “You know, I’m feeling quite nervous about tomorrow.” Not that I’m running away or anything like that. But I decided to be courageous and openly admit what I was really feeling.
You know what? It feels pretty good. It feels right. It feels true. It feels like I’m letting people know me instead of presenting them an airbrushed cardboard cutout of some idea of who I think I ought to be and then worrying about what other people think while I try to maintain the false image I project.
Here’s what I experienced:
Admitting my nervousness to myself somehow reduces its power over me. When I openly admitted to myself, “Man, I am nervous about tomorrow,” instead of simply trying not to be nervous, somehow my nervousness changed character. It was like it moved from my heart out to my skin. I am still nervous, but the feelings of fight, freeze or flight that accompany anxiety in varying intensities moved away from me. It was definitely good to say intentionally, “Man, I am nervous,” instead of saying subtly to myself, “Man, I’ve got to stop being so nervous.”
Admitting my nervousness and feelings of vulnerability creates space to share another feeling I am feeling: confidence. I don’t know exactly what tomorrow will hold, but I am confident that as the worship band works together, we will handle whatever happens in the morning with grace and good humor. Our worship band is full of great people! I am also confident that God causes all things to work together for those who love him and are called according to his purposes. So even if we totally crash and burn, that doesn’t mean God’s purposes won’t prevail, which is the point anyway.
Sharing my nervousness with my wife also created the opportunity for her to show love to me, which she has done wonderfully from a glass of red wine, to dinner, to three Oreos in a bowl even as I write this. The courage of honest interaction made a place for our relationship to grow.
Having the courage to own, name and share my nervousness today lessened my own anxiety, allowed me to express confidence in my team and my God, and created a space for love to to be practiced in my marriage. My prideful spirit isn’t too excited about being vulnerable by sharing my nervousness, but look at all the good that comes from it!
So, I am feeling nervous, vulnerable, excited and confident about the parade tomorrow. I sure hope the sound system works like it did when I tested it!