by Doska Ross
Synod Executive and Stated Clerk
Have you intentionally tried anything new lately? Shopped at a different grocery store where the aisle layout was unfamiliar? Taken a new way home, using surface streets instead of the familiar freeway? Eaten at an ethnic restaurant with a menu of dishes whose ingredients are unknown to you?
I’ve had the chance to encounter each of these new experiences recently, and they got me to thinking about doing new things. Such forays into unfamiliar territory can be enjoyable or unnerving, depending on how eager you are to be there, how willing you are to get out of your usual comfort zone.
In the ten weeks since I started in this new position as your synod stated clerk and executive , I’ve had the opportunity to confront totally new things nearly every day, so I know all too well how exciting and intimidating new experiences can be. I’ve enjoyed making lots of new acquaintances while also realizing that I may not be able to remember their names the next time we meet. Traveling on new streets and highways has been challenging yet exhilarating (well, mostly) as long as I leave plenty of time to take a wrong turn along the way (and I thank all the powers that be for my GPS!). It’s been fun finding out what is available within walking distance of my apartment; I just wish I read Korean so I could identify the various stores more easily. But I truly enjoy living in this diverse neighborhood!
Many of you have asked if I knew what I was getting into before saying yes to this new call. I can truthfully say yes, and no. I was aware that there would be many challenges and I had heard some information about some of the difficulties before I got here. The depth and complexity of so many of them catches me off guard at times, so I spend a lot of each day silently praying for wisdom and patience as we work to move forward on possible resolutions. Fortunately, I can definitely say that I love this work! What a gift it is to be here among you, living and learning anew each day!
It occurs to me that who accompanies us on the journey and how willing we are to face new challenges and opportunities makes a big difference in how well we handle them. If I had been fearful when I came here, all these unfamiliar tasks would be overwhelming and draining; my new life would be miserable. Instead, I am eager to jump into this new call in a new place, so I find it much easier to muster the energy and spend the time needed for all the tasks that come with it. And I know I am not alone in this work. It is such a blessing to be involved in this service with so many of you who are committed and willing to share your knowledge and experience with me!
I believe that God is calling each of us to get out of our comfort zone, to consider new ways of doing our work, to be open to unfamiliar possibilities. We are called to relationship with Christ, which then extends to our relationships with others. This means not just others we already know, but neighbors we may not know, and those we encounter along the way who are not as fortunate as we are. If we are to be the disciples Jesus calls us to be, it will mean extending ourselves willingly into new and unfamiliar, perhaps even scary and unnerving possibilities. Our positive attitude about taking up these challenges will help us to succeed, and best of all, we are assured that we won’t be walking the path alone—God’s Holy Spirit is always accompanying us.
So I challenge you to intentionally try something new in your own life, whether it be taking a new way home, or smiling and greeting someone you don’t know at church, or reading the Bible instead of watching TV at the end of the day. Do it with a spirit of adventure, opening yourself to how it feels to push out of your normal comfort area. What did you learn from this new experience? What surprised you, and what might be the next new thing you could try? Let’s all keep ourselves open to lessons that God may have in store for us. And thanks for walking with me on this new path!