Planting My Feet
I have a confession to make: I'm afraid of commitment.
Hear me out. Labels feel like a big deal. When something is acknowledged as something real/big/important/official—something that can't possibly not be labeled any longer—well, that’s pretty serious. And “serious” is listed under synonyms for “terrifying” in my personal dictionary.
Fear has prevented me from committing to things for my entire life. I prefer to flit around rather than to really lock myself into any one thing. This proneness to wandering plagues me still, to be honest. It's kind of silly that this is still an issue for me, though, because the truth of the matter is that some of my best decisions have been committing to things.
One of these good commitments? Becoming a partner at Summit.
A commitment is an investment. It's a promise. It's a lot of really big and really beautiful words. It's saying "Hey, I know you're not perfect, but I see something really good in you, and I'm choosing to get behind that—to love it, to pursue it and to fight for it.”
When I moved back to the Orlando area after college, I stumbled upon Summit through the recommendation of an old friend. Right from the start, I saw that aforementioned "something really good" in Summit. Something so good that I couldn't deny it or turn away from it. Something that could've only come from the Lord himself. Something that compelled me to stay.
Even still, it took me a while before I was willing to make my commitment to Summit official. For months, I slipped in quietly after worship had begun, taking a seat in the back by myself. When the service had ended, I would maneuver my way out just as stealthily as I had arrived, avoiding eye contact with anyone and everyone on my way out the door.
It was a paradox comparable to that of the ever-relatable "I'm too self-conscious about my body to go to the gym, but I'm self conscious about my body because I don't go to the gym." I longed for community and connection and a deeper involvement in the church that I now considered mine, but felt ashamed that I didn't have it and continued to not make enough of an effort to.
Through a series of events that can be chalked up to divine intervention and the encouragement of some great friends who decided to dive in with me, eventually I (hesitantly) joined a Connect group and signed up for a Partnership Class. I finally decided that instead of running away or taking a seat on the sidelines, I would plant my feet, get my hands dirty, and see what the Lord would do.
Making this simple commitment was life-changing. Becoming a partner with Summit gave me a push that I hadn't even known I needed. I stopped being a bystander and became a participant. I got baptized at Beach Baptisms (one of the best days ever). I started volunteering as a Large Group storyteller, getting up on a stage (albeit a tiny one, with an audience of tiny faces) for the first time in years and learning a little something (or sometimes a big something) new about myself and about God each week through Bible stories that I've heard a million-and-one times but seem to constantly take on new meaning. I made new friends who have become some of my nearest and dearest—friends who rejoice with me in the peaks, cry with me in the valleys, and laugh at/with me when I make a fool of myself (a daily occurrence).
I'm still me. I'm still afraid of commitment and the vulnerability and responsibility attached to that. But I'm also a partner at Summit, and I'm really happy about it. And I'm learning that committing to something good is worth the fear that precedes it. Now, if I slip into church late, attempting to go unnoticed, it's because I underestimated Colonial traffic for the gazillionth time, not because I am afraid. It's so interesting that in finally committing to something, I found the freedom that I had always been terrified of losing… but maybe never even really had.
Lexi Ciulla is—just as you expected— a partner here at Summit. She has been attending Summit for over two years, is a Connect group member, volunteers in Base Camp as a Large Group Storyteller, and writes for the Summit Magazine. Lexi is a Grants Manager for a nonprofit and she loves doodling, laughing, napping, and telling anyone who will listen about how much she loves Matt Damon.