Confessions of an Introvert: The Iron Bubble and How HLI Popped it by Aaron Scherer

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HLI changed my life. Growing up I was under both my parents and siblings’ shadows. My parents are deeply entrenched ‘Vinyardites’. They have been part of the Vineyard movement since its 2nd year. I am the youngest of four siblings, Andrew, Andrea, Amanda, and Aaron (that’s me). I had always felt like the odd duck of my family. All my siblings naturally have brown hair and darker eyes; whereas, I was born with platinum blonde hair and striking blue eyes. My older brother used to tell me when I was younger, that I was the milk-man’s son. Strangers at Disneyland would look at us 4 kids even ask my parents if I was from the same dad. Needless to say, I grew up with a chip on my shoulder. I watched as my older siblings seemingly thrived in all their relationships and endeavors and wondered when that would happen for me. I grew to resent and compare myself with anyone and everyone readily available. I’ve always been on the quieter (chiller) side. Unfortunately, this allowed me to hide much of what was just underneath the surface from others.

I didn’t like myself, as much as I denied it. My brother and I over the years grew apart. Although we we’re at much different stages of life when I entered HLI, we had both mutually hated each other in the past. Brotherly rivalry turned into brotherly hate. There was a time when we couldn’t stand being in the same room as each other. In my friendships throughout high school I struggled to feel included and part of the group. My friends would jokingly point out all the inadequacies I so poignantly felt. Denial, bitterness, and cynicism came to control my behavior. I was generally nice on the outside, but internally I struggled to find acceptance. This constant need for acceptance led me to compare myself with those I felt were unconditionally accepted (my siblings, my friends). Over the course of HLI I became acutely aware that I had an “Iron Bubble”. Without realizing it every time someone I was talking to took a step towards me I would always take a step backwards. I didn’t much like being touched and I tried to stay out of arm’s reach of most people. Imagine a tall skinny porcupine, who flinched every time someone touched him…that was me. I didn’t have a personal bubble, I had an iron bubble that kept others at a distance.

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HLI enabled me to confront the lies I had told myself over the years. Finally, I was able to stand confident in my own identity. I came home a different person. My family and friends marveled at the change. I’ve been in youth ministry at my church since I came back 4 years ago and have completely lost the ‘Iron Bubble’. I’m still an introvert and still prefer less physical touch than more, but have hugged and high-fived more middle schoolers and high schoolers than I could count at this point. If you are even mildly interested in HLI, you should talk to a site director, research, and pray on it. Take the leap! I went from Southern California to Maine for HLI! Over the course of HLI I drove on a snowmobile track (in a car), drove into a light post (at 3 mph), and drove into snowbank, I am better for it! HLI changed my life and it can change yours too.

Mary McKellick