Hey there lovely reader–thanks for showing up and sharing this space with me! Words have always been a safe place for me—whether it be filling up pages and pages of a journal or staying up into the wee hours of the morning with my nose stuck in a book. There is so much peace and wisdom to be found in the written word.
As much as I have seen that God has given me a gift for communicating through words, a space that has always held a lot of fear for me is public speaking. This is a common fear, I think. Yet, despite my fear, it’s a place I have been pushed towards my entire life. From teaching little kids to grown adults, I get on stage afraid and walk off knowing I was meant to be there.
It’s a weird concept to be so afraid of something that God has seemingly given you a grace to do. This creates a tension within me, because the thing is, I so deeply desire to encourage people and help them to understand life, so in kind, I want to have the space to do that while another part of me would much rather be behind the scenes or having a deeper conversation with one person rather than a whole crowd.
Yet–without fail, every time I try to avoid a stage, I end up right back there again. My knees are shaking, my breathing gets shallow, while my voice tries to not quiver or stumble. I say what I came to say, walk off, and feel energized and encouraged that the Lord showed up and spoke through me when I couldn’t have done it myself. It reminds me of how Moses needed Aaron to be his spokesperson because he wasn’t an eloquent speaker. I even relate to Paul when he says that he expresses himself better through writing his letters to the churches than when he is publicly speaking.
At my church I have led a ministry for young adults the last few years, yet I have rarely taught since instead we chose to invite different speakers every time we came together. Then in August, I wasn’t able to find anyone to do it, so it came down to me. Usually, I would spend hours and hours pouring over books and journals trying to figure out the perfect topic to talk about. I have always approached teaching that way.
In this instance, I felt my heart pause before it jumped off the cliff into a raging sea of anxiety, and instead turned my face towards Christ and simply asked him to show me what to talk about. As this prayer slipped from my lips, so did any control that I wanted to have over this thing that always caused fear. There was no ruminating or sleepless nights, instead there was an ongoing conversation with God as I went about my day. I could tell that for some reason my heart was choosing to trust that God would inspire me to share something that would impact the people in that room.
I spent days talking with God, writing nothing down on paper but storing every thing inside. Then it came to the day I was supposed to speak and I still had nothing written down, yet peace reigned in my heart. I sat down a few hours before, jotted down a few words, a scripture, and pulled up a song that God had been using in my life to write this sermon. I walked up on that stage filled with peace and trust that God was there. Confident that he had shown me what to say.
I can vividly remember driving home that night in awe of God. I asked a friend, “Is this what it feels like to really trust God and not live knee deep in anxiety?” I didn’t want this feeling to go away. I didn’t want this peace and trust I have in God to be situational but rather the new normal for my life.
In the following weeks, there were continuous opportunities for me to approach things that typically terrify me in a new way. I felt so thankful that ministry while still hard, did not have to be filled with anxiety. Hallelujah! I didn’t know what happened all the sudden that I could casually public speak and it wasn’t a big deal. I don’t even think that it meant that the fear was entirely gone, more so that the fear no longer consumed my thoughts and trust was holding the reins.
Then I began to wonder… what if my anxiety is what kept me humble? Also described as my insecurities. I didn’t want to be a prideful person and I knew that all of this peace and confidence had come from God. I had the thought that I would rather be insecure than prideful….until I realized that these two traits aren’t actually that different from one another.
While pride is focused on what we can do and insecurity focuses on what we can’t do–both are focused on us and what we can bring to the table.
This thought then led me to this question, “How does someone have confidence without being prideful?”
I asked some friends to think about this question, then kept thinking and thinking and thinking—until finally I came across the answer in this young adult fiction book that has fun medieval language in it (so bear with with me). This is a conversation between two characters.
“I like that you mention confidence. It is different from arrogance and pride, which inflates a person’s view of themselves and makes them difficult to work with. But confidence is the very thing needed to accomplish any task. If a young squire has no confidence, he cannot succeed in training to be a knight. He cannot even raise his sword to fight. And the more confidence he gains, the more able he is to learn and the better he becomes. If he can stay humble rather than becoming prideful, then his confidence will increase and he can accomplish more and more.” “That sounds wise.” She would have to ponder this, but it sounded quite true. “I think that applies to others as well. If these girls have confidence in their abilities, they can do many more things.” She seemed to recall something in the Holy Writ about confidence, being confident in God and something about being bold.Melanie Dickerson
After reading this it all clicked into place for me. If insecurity and pride are two sides of the same coin because they both rely and focus on our own abilities, then a humble confidence comes from knowing that we are gifted but that all credit is due to the one who gave us those gifts to begin with. We’re relying on the strength he gives us, not on a strength we muster up on our own. Our eyes are on the Creator and therefore the pressure is off because it’s not about us, truly. It is all about glorifying Christ.
My prayer has been for the Lord to continue to show me how to live in this middle place with a quiet confidence rather than leaning one way or the other. He says we can trust Him and life is a process of learning to do that more and more.
God is trustworthy. God is kind. God knows you’re scared and He is with you. I promise.
Do things afraid, not because you have to or feel pressured but because you want to experience more of God.