Monday, July 26, 2010

Facing My Fears

I've often heard that the only way to overcome a fear is to do the thing that frightens you. Last week, I was forced to do this very thing.

One of my fears is needing to stand up and say something, but not being able to prepare ahead of time. I know this is a good skill to have, but I've always been content to let others jump in and say what needs to be said. But sometimes, someone needs to hear what I have to say. If I have time to prepare, to think about what to say and how to say it, then I'm fine. But you can't always know ahead of time when a need to have your voice heard will happen.

Last week, I was in DC for the National Coalition for Public School Options conference. On Tuesday morning, we all headed over to Capitol Hill to speak with our lawmakers. While we were waiting in our senator's office, my friend Rose, who is fearless and far more experienced at talking to people in power, told me that she wanted me to take the lead and present our case. I felt like Wesley in The Princess Bride: maybe, if I'd had a month to plan, but this was impossible! Sure, I've talked to lawmakers and their staff back in Wisconsin, but this was the big time! I just knew I couldn't do it. But I had no time to say no; I had no choice but to just do the thing that frightens me.

So with a shaky voice, I started talking. And you know what? By doing what I was afraid of, I stopped being afraid. It felt good to have my voice heard. Afterward, Rose told me she hadn't wanted me to worry; that's why she didn't tell me until the last minute that I would be the one up front. And now I know that, while I may be nervous the next time I'm called on to speak, I won't be afraid. I will know that I can handle it, because I've already done it.

I read a beautiful post once on a blog I follow, that God gives us the strength we need when we need it. That's why when we imagine problems, we feel the panic and don't know how we will be able to handle those problems if they happen. But when we are actually faced with them, God is there. He strengthens us and enables us to handle things that overwhelmed us in our imaginations. I know that's what He did here. And He will do it for anyone who faces her fears.