Step out. That was my New Year’s Resolution this past January. They’re just two words, but they hold a two-fold meaning for me.
Initially, I chose Step Out as a resolution because of a renewed commitment to improv comedy when I joined Improv Charlotte in late December. I went through a time towards the end of last year where I didn’t know if I wanted to continue doing improv. It was no longer a new thing for me, and it had lost some of its luster in my eyes.
Right around that same time, Improv Charlotte advertised for their auditions, and I felt like God was pointing me towards it. After a multi-week audition process, I was humbled to be invited to join the group.
However, something still didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel right. I was apprehensive. I was nervous. I was noncommittal. I wasn’t as excited about it as I felt like I should have been. If I could have procrastinated making the decision, I would have, but they needed an answer. I thought it through for about 36 hours, went against my gut, and said yes.
I Stepped Out.
That apprehension, anxiety, and hesitation are exactly what you are NOT supposed to do in improv. Saying yes is exactly what you ARE supposed to do. This is especially true when you are feeling that call towards anxiety and hesitation. SAY YES! STEP OUT! Make a bold choice! Start a scene on your own with no clear direction of where you’ll end up!
Y’all, that’s hard. I continue to have trouble with it. But it’s also really powerful and liberating when you manage to muster up the courage to Step Out towards the front of the stage and begin speaking words which will hopefully form a sentence which will hopefully end… somewhere good? [i]
As the year progressed, I realized that Step Out was actually much deeper than I originally thought. It wasn’t just a call for me to be a better improviser or to take more chances in life. It was a call for me to be a less fearful person. Anxiety, apprehension, and hesitation are, for me, manifestations of the fear of being out of control and the fear of the unknown that comes with that lack of control. [ii]
That’s where courage comes in. I learned by listening to a podcast on Enneagram Type 6 [iii] that there’s a difference between bravery and courage. Bravery is doing a dangerous or risky thing without feeling fear. Courage is feeling the fear of that dangerous or risky thing but doing the thing anyway because something more important is at stake.
So yes, Step Out began in regards to improv. In addition, it has morphed into a daily challenge to move forward with courage through the walls of fear I often allow to form between myself and freedom, joy, and progress.
The guest on that podcast references 1 John 4:18, which says,
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
That love is Jesus! He does not want us to fear!
Jesus breaks through our walls of fear and beckons us to draw near to him.
He says “Punish yourself no longer! Come away from your destructive fear and towards my free gifts of grace and freedom.”
Freedom, joy, progress, and indeed, love begin when we find our courage, push through our fear, and move towards the perfect love found in the grace of Christ.
It begins when we Step Out.
[i] Please, God, somewhere good… and maybe funny?
[ii] I’ve written about this part of me before so I won’t rehash it again.
[iii] Shout out Kalle Stinson, Redemption Church Enneagram Evangelist