It was the year 1976 and nervous children gathered in Mrs. Lankford’s kindergarten class for the very first time. Kindergarten was only a half day back then. There was enough time to be introduced to the Letter People, hear a story, meet a few new friends, and then get back on the little yellow school bus. Kids went home from that first day of school and told their parents that there was a girl in the class who couldn’t talk. That little girl was me.
I was painfully shy. Mrs. Lankford only heard me utter two words the entire year that I was in her class. We had an assignment to cut pictures out of a magazine and bring them to class. Mrs. Lankford thought my pictures were wonderful and she asked me what magazine I had found them in. I whispered the words “Sesame Street” into her ear.
Fast forward to 5th grade. The teacher gave an assignment that left my knees shaking. Each student had to memorize a poem and recite it to the class. Memorizing the poem was easy, but I did not want to recite it in front of the class. I was really hoping that I would get a stomach bug and I would get out of it. No such luck. I remember getting up and reciting the poem and feeling as if I could vomit at any moment.
Fast forward to Senior English. The teacher announced that it was time to start giving speeches. Didn’t I just do that 7 years ago? Why-oh-why can’t I get a stomach bug, strep throat, or a migraine so I can get out of this? Of course, I woke up perfectly healthy. I was actually going to have to do this. I walked to the front of the class, lifted my papers up, and began my speech. My hands were visibly shaking. They were shaking so much that I was having trouble reading my speech. It seemed like an eternity, but I finally got to the last line. As I walked back to my desk, the teacher commented that I seemed so calm and I had done a wonderful job. I’m pretty sure that she saw my hands shaking, but she chose to compliment my efforts rather than criticize my delivery.
Public speaking has always been my enemy. All year I’ve felt like I was supposed to start this blog. But fear kept creeping in. It whispered in my ear “You know you’re not good at speaking. You really aren’t qualified to do something like that.”
I’m pretty sure that Moses and I have the same personality type. The Lord asked Moses to go and bring the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses asked “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11-12). He obviously didn’t feel qualified to do what the Lord was asking him to do. When I first felt as if the Lord was asking me to start this blog, I questioned Him as well. I asked Him “You want me to bring encouragement to other families when I’m a complete mess myself? Are you kidding me? How is that even possible?” The Lord’s response to Moses was “I will be with you”. He is with me also. I can’t do this without Him.
Moses said “Oh Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant, I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:10-12). I have also reminded the Lord that public speaking is not my strength. “Don’t you remember kindergarten, 5th grade, and my Senior year of high school, Lord? I can just picture Him smiling and saying “Oh, Tricia, stop thinking so much and just go. I will teach you what to say.”
God doesn’t always choose the person who looks qualified for the job. I can’t help but think about I Samuel 16:7. It says For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” If you look at my outward appearance I certainly don’t look qualified. My knees and my hands shake when I speak. But the Lord looks at my heart. He sees that my heart breaks every time our two upside down turtles struggle with something that is easy for other kids. He sees me when my heart is ugly and I’m angry because life just doesn’t look like I pictured it. He sees that my heart aches for others who feel the same things that I feel. He sees all that is going on in my heart and He wants to heal me. He sees others who are lonely, angry, broken-hearted and disillusioned and He wants them to be healed too. I believe that this blog has been born so that all of us who are struggling could find each other. The Lord never meant for us to be alone. He wants us to encourage one another. He wants us to bring light to someone’s darkness and to bring joy to someone’s sorrow.
As I end this first post, fear is starting to whisper in my ear again. My knees are shaking, and I feel a bit nauseous. Our pastor told me that sometimes you have to run over the fear instead of hoping that it will go away. I’ve waited all year for the fear of starting a blog to go away, and it never has. So I’m choosing to push the publish button to this post and run over my fear. I trust the Lord will bring hope, healing and encouragement to all who read the words that He gives me.