“Are you that afraid of exposing yourself that you won’t do what you’re called to?”
To this day my mother has a way of provoking me. The woman does not prod or probe, she kicks. And on this particular day I was standing in a sari downstairs at our church, nervously rambling about not wanting to get up on stage.
Let me backtrack here to explain that our youth group was hosting “World Culture Day.” I don’t know if it was an actual celebration or just one the women in the Children’s Department had made up, but what I did know if that I was assigned India, told to research the country’s history and get up in front of 500 people and present.
I was eight years old at the time, really an irrelevant fact because the truth is as old as I am now, getting up in front of our congregation is no simple task. My church family was like real family- they saw no issue with interrupting my presentation with a “Speak up!” and breaking my train of thought mid-stream.
If I was worried about one thing more than anything else, it was that I felt I just was not the type to be doing this sort of thing. Tell me to go play the piano- fine. Sing in the choir- cool. But explain and convey the Indian struggle for independence in front of the faces I would have to see every week if I screwed up- absolutely not. So there I stood in the stairwell with my mother, staging a protest that would have made both Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. shake their heads.
While my mother had tolerated my whining in the bathroom that morning and then in the car on way, she finally asked me that question out of frustration with her child that was too afraid to be bold.
Most days, I think I do a good job of being better than that nervous eight-year-old girl. But every once in a while, I have to remind myself to stop trembling in the stairwells and just walk out and be my best self. Though her stern tone didn’t provide the escape I wanted, my mother’s words made me recognize that even in a sari covering shiny church shoes, I needed to have unrelenting faith in myself.
Sometimes it’s the very jump we are afraid of making that will propel us to where we are called to be. Today, promise you will no longer tremble in waiting- step out and expose yourself.