new to you friday–I have a theme

Well, Dudley went another (excellent) direction for the 2011 NACC, but I still like my theme.

This past year I worked through a few issues in therapy (best money I’ve ever spent), began editing a new magazine for young girls (more on this soon), made some new friends, tried ziplining, quit a few freelance jobs and picked up a few more, traveled to Chicago by myself, and even played on a kickball team (well, I got on base a few times). It’s been a great year, mostly because I tried some kind-of-scary things.

This Halloween weekend, fear not! What brave thing do you need to do between now and December 31 to make this a great year?


It’s a safe bet I’ll never be asked to serve as NACC president, but just in case I’ve got my theme ready.

My mom teaches Human Development at CCU, and during the early childhood portion of the course she describes the “fearful, flexible, and feisty” theory, which defines three basic temperaments.

Every child fits one, and I was definitely in the fearful category. Old friends still laugh about my response to the overstimulation and forced playtime of the church nursery—I hid alone under the cribs until Brandon Abercrombie joined me there to pull my hair. I spent many mornings before kindergarten and first grade quietly crying at the breakfast table, and had a meltdown when I couldn’t write the number 2 as well as my teacher, Mrs. Pence. (My mother’s gentle yet firm response: “Jenni, Mrs. Pence is old. She’s been making 2s for a long time. You’re five.”)

And yet, as I’ve moved into adulthood, I find myself taking risks while others play it safe.
I went 300 miles away to a college where I knew only one person and majored in English Lit (go ahead, you know you’re dying to say it: “How are you going to get a job with a major like that?”).

I tackled projects, like teaching myself QuarkXPress to design the NACC program book, that seem foolishly difficult in retrospect. (There is something to be said for the ignorance of youth.) I moved to California alone, then moved to Nashville alone. I helped reconfigure a company, then realized I couldn’t take another day in a cubicle and launched out as a freelance writer not knowing if it would actually allow me to pay my bills.

My fearful temperament hasn’t changed, but I’ve learned it’s okay to be afraid—what counts is how you respond.

Think about it: almost every Bible character who allowed God to use his life in a significant way did so because he obeyed in spite of fear. Abraham left everything familiar to travel to a far country, David spent years on the run from a mad king, Mary delivered a baby alone in a cave, Paul survived shipwrecks and endured prison. I’d bet my “Footprints” plaque they felt fear, but the glory—God’s glory—came from their choice to obey anyway.

So that would be my NACC theme: Fear not! The angels said it to terrified shepherds (who then obeyed by finding Jesus). “Be strong and courageous,” God told his people (who obeyed and conquered the Promised Land). “Fear the Lord your God,” he commands us, and we obey, even if it means swallowing our fear of people.

Throughout Scripture, God’s people feel fear as a noun but don’t indulge in fear as a verb, and I’d use my hypothetical presidency to remind God’s people today to follow their example. Dudley, you’re up for 2011—you can have this one if you give me a credit line in the program book.