Real Pressure

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Do you ever lie awake in the morning with the feeling that it’s not just any morning? The light of twilight through your window bathes your room in a soft glow, and for some reason, you just know that today is the beginning of something new.

There’s an element of rush, an element of distance. Something in you already knows that you’re about to leave all that you see behind, even if only for a season.

I feel this way before long trips away from home, or before moving to another house with all my family’s belongings in tow.

I feel it today, although as far as I can tell, I’m not moving away or starting a long trip away from home. Perhaps it’s the way the light enters my window, the way I slept, or the way I woke up; or the emptiness of the shelves I was cleaning.

Or maybe it’s foreshadowing. I expect a somewhat long day. I’m very excited for today. The youth group at my home church is going on a trip downtown to give away gift bags of useful items to people experiencing homelessness. For some reason, I feel like I’ll be someone today who I’m usually not. I feel that I’m less afraid when I have to be less afraid. I’m less stressed when I have to be less stressed. I’m more likely to perform when it’s just what is required of me.

It’s not that I appreciate pressure. Most pressure isn’t really pressure, just social pressure. There are no real stakes other than loss of approval. When people threaten to approve less of me, I make a mess of their expectations to spite them. Because I don’t approve of social pressure. But when there is real pressure in a situation, when something actually needs to happen, otherwise real, reasonable goals won’t be met, that’s when I flourish. That’s the kind of pressure I expect to feel today.

Today, I expect to have to be an example to a small group of teenagers. I expect to have to put my best, kindest, most loving and bold face on, so that these kids might see what we’re here to do on this planet, in this lifetime.

Frankly, I’m excited. I’m excited to be giving presents to the needy. I enjoy being a blessing in whatever way I can. Unfortunately, I don’t think I would’ve been able to find the guts to do it on my own. With a friend taking the lead, maybe. But then I’d just hang back and interject when I felt comfortable to.

But today will be different. I’ve been assigned as a leader. There won’t be anyone to hide behind. There’s pressure, not the kind that people use to manipulate each other when no real stakes exist other than their comfort. There’s real pressure, the kind that people feel when things really matter, when their actions really start to matter. It’s the kind of pressure that squeezes me up like plant through the pavement to bloom.

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