I wrote this piece for myself a year ago and it is one of the first realizations I had to begin blogging. It is a more personal post that came straight from my heart at 3am one morning after teaching Vacation Bible School. In honor of the VBS kickoff this week, I decided to muster up some courage and share this message in hopes that it resonates with some of you. Its a bit lengthy and I apologize, but sometimes when we speak about insecurities it takes a little longer to get the words together. I hope this touches your life in some way and if it does please leave a comment and share with others.
This past week I volunteered at Vacation Bible School at New Hope Bible Baptist, and I did so with an underlying feeling that I was suppose to take something away from this experience. I had a gut feeling that I was suppose to “learn” something. I worked as a leader for 1st and 2nd graders and since I also work as a First Grade teacher in my professional life. I was quickly realizing that the only thing I had “learned” in the first couple days was that I was thankful to have a few more days before I had to start back to school! Now don’t get me wrong, I love children, but the first couple weeks of school are hard on even the strongest of teachers and I’m not quite ready for summer to be over yet.
Regardless, I was feeling a little discouraged on the drive home after VBS one evening. I felt foolish for thinking that me, a 26-year-old girl, actually thought that I was going to learn something. I mean come on…VBS is supposed to be teaching children, not me! So the next evening, I quickly pushed that feeling aside and got geared up for another night. We did our opening routine, I passed out nametags, we sang our theme song “Submerged” (which I am quite sure will be forever engrained in my memory), we played a competitive game of kick-ball and headed off to our Bible lesson for the night. We listened to the story of Jesus healing the blind man.
At the end of the lesson each night the one of the other adults say “Who wants to say grace before we go eat our dinner?” — Then it happens, I start to panic, sweat, and pray that no one asks me to pray out loud. I sit awkwardly frozen waiting for someone else to volunteer. Usually one of the other adults in the room steps up and offers to say grace but not this night… A little girl raises her hand and offers to say the blessing before we eat. We all bowed our heads and listened to, I’m sure, one of the most beautiful and sincere prayers we have ever heard. I was in shock, and I am sure my mouth was hanging wide open by the time she was finished because all I could think about was how brave she was and to be only 7!
I began to have flashbacks to when I was younger and played Upward Basketball at church. It was a rule that teammates had to take turns saying a prayer before each one of our games. When it was my turn to say the prayer… I couldn’t! I couldn’t force the words out of my mouth. I will also never forget feeling the weight of the world when the coach said, “Well we aren’t going to start the game until you do!” So we all sat and waited …and waited …and waited and finally when we couldn’t delay the game any longer he gave in and said the prayer while I sat still frozen.
I am a person who has always felt a lot of social anxieties. Which seems like an odd personality trait to have as Miss Ohio USA. I find myself having battles with fear. The conversation usually sounds like this:
Anxiety: “Oh no… but what if this happens?”
Me: “Nah, It won’t”
Anxiety: “BUT WHAT IF IT DOES?!!”
Me: “Yep, you got me there! Let’s not go..”
And therefore I usually wind-up avoiding Wal-Mart like the plague.
This played on my mind for the rest of that evening. On the drive home I thought to myself; how is it, that I can be on stage in a swimsuit in front of 6 MILLION people, film commercials, and give a commencement address, yet I cannot say a public prayer? A 7-year-old can do that!
Then the phrase “Child-like faith” came to my mind. I began to think about all the things that kids do without thinking: blurt out comments without really thinking, running fast and jumping high without fear of getting hurt, and most importantly trusting and loving others with their whole heart. They are usually completely oblivious to the crippling feelings of heartache, betrayal, or humiliation. By saying someone has “child-like” faith by no means implies that it’s a “small” amount of faith, instead it means that you are in complete wonder and awe of what Christ has done for us. It means that you view the world as a wonderful and exciting place to pursue the opportunity to please God in everything that you do. And for me it was a reminder to not let fears hold you back from those opportunities.
I realize now what I was meant to learn from my Vacation Bible school experience. Then I felt foolish all over again for giving up so quickly on the message that God was trying to give me just because it hadn’t happened by day 2… but I am very grateful that God is patient and I’m even convinced that he has humor seeing how the main message of the lesson of Jesus with the blind man was to learn that the Lord can do wonderful things in our lives when we have the faith to trust in Him.
With this being said, I feel like it’s also important to know that I almost didn’t volunteer for VBS. When I first heard the dates I thought, “My schedule is to hectic right now, I am constantly traveling and there’s no way I would be able to commit.” Then when that week on my calendar freed up and I sent a leader a message and told her I would help out when and wherever I could but still hoping to land a big modeling job that week I just asked her to put me in a flexible position incase I were to have to miss.
Then midway through the week of VBS I get the call that I did not book the modeling job. I was feeling frustrated and a little crushed in spirit that I didn’t get the job I prayed so hard for AND I wasn’t experiencing any sort of revelation from God like I expected. However, remember that part I said about God having humor? Well I think that he just wanted to make sure I had perfect attendance and let my Type A personality know that He is the one in control.
But I feel like this is a perfect example of letting fear and other things get in the way of opportunities with God. What if I would have not volunteered and missed this message? How many other messages have I missed out on? I hope my story is somewhat of an encouragement to step out of your comfort zone, take a leap of faith, and do what you feel compelled to do. Don’t let yourself get in your way.
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