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When I began to think about starting a blog I was excited! I could start a simple blog, share my passions and what I have learned. Then the thought of it began to overwhelm me.
What would people think? What if no one reads it? Or even, what if it becomes a disaster?
This is exactly what happens whenever I am faced with a decision like that. One that will take me out of my comfort zone. I begin to worry about all the things that ‘could’ go wrong.
Like for instance, speaking in front of people. I do not like to do it – I never have and truth be told I probably never will.
While in high school, speaking in front of my class was the worst. My heart would beat very fast and I just knew everyone could tell just how nervous I was. I would get short of breath and my face would be very hot and red!
Once, a classmate commented on my red face as I was struggling to give an oral presentation, “Joy, did you know your face is red?” All that did was make it redder I am sure. I am not too sure that I liked that kid.
I’m Not Doing It!
During those years of high school, known as the quiet & shy girl, I would never speak up for myself or volunteer for attention of any kind. I preferred to go unnoticed. To fade into the background.
So, fast forward a few years (30 to be exact) I am now married with children and a husband in ministry. So what does that mean? It means I am also called to speak up sometimes. To do exactly the thing I am very uncomfortable doing.
As a parent, I am required to speak for my children in school when they are treated unfairly. When someone threatens their innocence or their wellbeing I have to step in. Confrontation is not something that comes easily for me. I would rather forgive and forget without any resolution or mention if it means avoiding any type of conflict. You see, that brings attention to me, and that is not one of my favorite things.
Plus, having a husband that is asked to do ministry in the Church, I am also called to help or step out or minister to others. Whether in Marriage Prep, or other ministries I have to present or give a talk alongside him. Usually, this is in front of, you guessed it, people.
My usual response? I fold my arms across my chest and voice the words “I’m not doing it!”
Oh yes, those words that have come many times in my head. In high school, I would say those words to myself over and over every time an oral assignment or some kind of presentation was required. Or when I would have to confront someone who absolutely needed to be confronted.
And today when my husband says Joy, we were asked to present, I ultimately do what I have always done…I cross my arms, look him straight in the eyes and say “I’m not doing it.”
Well, you know what? Every time I have said that I end up doing it.
In high school, in parenting, and in ministry I, again and again, end up doing the very thing I am so uncomfortable doing.
Do It Afraid?
So am I still uncomfortable and afraid? Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. But, I have come to realize, that even my shyness or being self-conscious of speaking to or in front of people is actually one of the very places where God can work in my life if I let him.
I myself cannot speak to people comfortably on my own. I cannot relay a message I need to or present information in a way that someone can truly receive it unless I allow the Holy Spirit to work through me.
When I look back I realize that my “refusing” to do the very thing I was afraid of – I realize I almost always do what I have refused to do. Why is that?
Well, first of all, my husband can be very persuasive. Second, the Grace that is given to us at Baptism is very present at all times. Especially in these times, we feel anxious or fearful when we are faced with a task.
I suspect that I will always be the girl who wants to go unnoticed. The one who would prefer you to ask someone else to speak or present, and the one who would leave undone what needs to be done all because of being shy and not feeling very effective in anything really.
One thing I’ve come to realize is that all of these ‘reasons’ I give for not wanting to do something are truly just flimsy excuses. Everyone feels inadequate at some time in life. When faced with leading the Israelites out of slavery Moses himself gave excuses for why God should not be asking him. One excuse he gave was not knowing how to speak very well and no one would listen to him anyway. Sound familiar?
After the litany of excuses, Moses still did what God wanted him to do. Moses had the grace and help of his brother given to him so that he could do the job set before him. Even if he didn’t exactly know how it was going to get done. He reluctantly agreed to go ahead and do what God wanted him to do. Then God sent help, promoted and enabled him to do what he was being asked to do. (Exodus 4:10-16)
I can only imagine that he was feeling a little anxious, shy and inadequate at best. But, he still did it – afraid and knowing God was a little tired of his excuses & wasn’t going to accept them! Then he watched as the hand of God worked through him to free his Beloved People and part the Red Sea before his very eyes.
Starting this blog, speaking in front of people, addressing injustice or just saying ‘hi’ to a stranger can be difficult and yes these are all hard for me. These are, however, not in the same scope as leading people out of years of bondage. But even in my current world just knowing that being afraid is not an excuse not to do it is a big realization to me. Being afraid is not a ‘you are off the hook card’.
No More Excuses!
So, with the help of examples, prayer, and being determined to do the things I have been asked to do and yes, even doing them afraid, I have started to become a lot more than just my feelings. Life is, you are more than your feelings. We have the ability to be intentional in our progress. Which is truly a gift.
I have begun to step out of my comfort zone. Trying to make anxiety-ridden decisions every day, but I make them intentionally. I still nervous, my heart still beats fast, my hands get cold, and my face still gets red. Even with all that, I simply acknowledge that it will not be easy and it will make me feel anxious but, I can do it – even if I am afraid.