Growing Pains

Yesterday was one of those mommy moments when your kid leaves you in complete shock. A couple of weeks ago my 10-year-old, Monica, came home with a paper from school about an upcoming talent show. She wanted to do something, but wasn't sure what her talent was. Of course, her older brother gave her a hard time about how she has no talent. She laughed and protested; they joked.

A couple of days later she told me that she wanted to do a comedy act. Over the next week she spent several hours writing up her bit for yesterday's audition. I sat and watched her before the judges, and I was so proud.

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Monica used to be very quiet and shy. As a toddler she would often hang her head in sad protest when something didn’t go her way. My mom would joke that she was the easiest kid to watch because her fits consisted of falling on the floor and laying completely still and silent for an hour. Or, she would hide behind a pillow on the couch.

When she was four the school announced it was having a kindergarten screening. I took her over to the school first thing in the morning, and she FROZE. No matter how hard I tried to encourage her, she couldn’t speak to any of the teachers. We kept going in and out of the gym. I begged her to try, and she would say she would, but as soon as we stepped foot in the gym, her fears paralyzed her.

Two hours later she was finally done with a ten-minute screening process. At that moment I wondered if my sweet daughter would ever overcome her fears and break out of this shell she enclosed herself in.

Fast forward six years and you can see why yesterday meant so much to me. Watching her up there in front of strangers, cracking jokes—trying something new—was amazing to watch.

Leading up to the tryouts, she fought through some of her old fears. She processed through having to talk in front of the judges. When she gets very nervous she mumbles and clears her throat a lot. Her practice runs were full of both of those things. At one point she got so overwhelmed she crumbled up her handwritten jokes and threw them on the dining room table. But in the end she pushed through. Over the years I have watched her push though many fears, and each time she grew stronger and more confident.

As grownups, I believe we can learn a lot by watching children. There seems to be an age when we decide that we no longer want to push ourselves into uncomfortable situations. We use phrases such as, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks" to justify why we won’t try things that make us uncomfortable.

As I have served the church I have seen this same attitude among God’s people. But we put a pious-sounding spin on it, saying, “That is not my giftedness” or “I don't feel led to do that.”

To be sure, not everyone is gifted musically or is called to preach, but as Christians why do we excuse ourselves from things we're all supposed to do, including prayer, public Bible reading, Bible study, encouragement, disciple-making, and hospitality? I have had several Christians tell me that they won’t pray out loud with others. When I ask why, they say it makes them uncomfortable.

Don't we grow as Christians by being uncomfortable? The Bible tells us that where we are weak, God makes us strong. Over and over again we see examples of God calling the weak to serve him. Did the disciples who were fisherman feel comfortable preaching and teaching? Do you ever wonder if it was out of their comfort zone to declare the name of Jesus in the temple courts full of scribes and scholars who put him to death as a false prophet?

My little girl challenged me yesterday. She has pushed through her fears to grow. We too need to push through our fears, not just to grow in character, but to grow as Christians. We have work to do. The God who created the universe—the God who bridged the gap of sin by dying on the cross, who didn’t leave us alone, but left his spirit to live in each one of us—has asked us to do a job. We are called to spread his gospel to the nations, making disciples who can then make disciples. We cannot make disciples without prayer and bible study. We cannot fulfil the great commission if we are hiding behind our fears.

Yesterday as Monica was being called into the audition room, she asked me, "Mom are you coming too?" My presence gave her the confidence she needed to overcome her fears. And God has promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age. What more do we need to push through our fears?

What fear might you be hiding behind? Would you trust our Savior that he is with you ever step of the way? 

- Marci