Yesterday I spent an unusually large percentage of my day paralyzed with fear. Though I used to win worrying championships, I have experienced such progress that I honestly don’t count fear among my significant hindrances anymore. As Beth Moore would say, “Somebody say, ‘Glory!’” (I’m so thankful, Lord.)
So it threw me off when a friend asked me, in her classy British accent, how I was and out popped one word: “Petrified.” That response surprised us both, to put it mildly.
Up first on Fear Day was sharing my testimony with a small group. This idea terrified me. I hate speaking in front of people. Once, in college, at a Parents’ Breakfast, I gave a short announcement about a service project I’d done. Things started out okay. Nervously, I rested my hand on the back of my chair. As I talked, I released a little more nervous energy by bending one knee and resting it on the seat of the chair. Then the other knee.
I kept talking. Stretched one leg out straight again so that I stood on one leg in front of the chair. Then brought my other leg in front of the chair. My hand still rested on the back of the chair now behind me, so I crossed my arms in front of me as I wrapped it up.
Yeah, I basically crawled over a chair while entire families were watching, and ended up in one of the most unapproachable body language poses imaginable. So overall, I would classify myself as a public speaker with significant room for improvement.
Pretty much the only reason I want to speak in front of more than one person at a time is Jesus. Who, as you may have guessed, figures prominently in my testimony, so I agreed. But, like many of you, I have heard enough testimonies that begin well and then take some random tangential turn off into “the time I lost the collar button on the shirt I promised my grandmother on her deathbed I would wear to my graduation.” Or something equally off-topic.
Texas author Lynna Williams described this phenomenon as “Jesus Jaw, a malady that makes it impossible for the devoted to say what they mean and sit down.” I dread getting up to tell a group about this amazing person who changed my life and instead boring everyone. I want to wear a preemptive t-shirt that says, “JESUS IS NOT BORING! IT’S JUST ME! I’M SORRY!”
Speaking of tangents.
I got through my testimony okay, but right after small group ended, Honey picked me up to do a test run of the route to the language school where I start Spanish classes next week. Because, oh, by the way, everyone, we’re moving to Cuba this summer! (Right. That could be a whole post. Maybe I should have announced that before today.) I need a test run, or maybe twelve, because I’m horrible with directions, even with a GPS. Plus we wanted to show Ladybug her new school, which she gleefully starts next week, too.
The test run went well; touring the campus of our schools reassured me. Back in the car, I fell apart. Slowly, though, so at first neither Honey or I realized it was happening. I tensed up, started up some old forgotten nervous gestures, and started feeling tight in my lungs. My eyes felt prickly, then teary, then overflowingly so.
I answered Honey in short gulping sentence fragments, telling him I’m scared everyone will see me as “just a mom,” that I’ll give away somehow that I haven’t been in a professional setting in over eleven years. That I won’t belong there.
Even I could hear how ridiculous I sounded. Still. How would I keep the house running smoothly? How would I find time to help with kids’ homework and do my homework? How will I get everyone to their respective schools on time? He’ll still be working long hours. What if I can’t handle it all myself?
I stopped crying eventually and started chuckling. I turned to Honey and said, “They say, ‘Hey, we’re sending you to Cuba for two years.’ I say, ‘Great!’ They say, ‘We’ll send you to Spanish classes to improve your skills.’ I say, ‘I CAN’T DO IT!!!’ What is wrong with this picture?”
Here’s what hit me, though. My life for the past eleven years formed a pleasant little cocoon around me. Its coziness felt just fine. Sure, on some crazy days “cozy” verged on “claustrophobic.” For an introvert who loves to travel, though, staying home with the kiddos (especially when “home” changes countries every couple of years) felt like the best of both worlds. Have safe haven, will travel. And now it’s over. On Monday. And I barely have time to say goodbye to this part of my life.
The next chapter could bring many things. Increased language skills will lead to a job for me outside the home when we move, we hope. I’ll still write this blog, though its future remains unsure as we head to a country so markedly different from our own. We’ll find friends from other countries, as not too many Americans live in Cuba.
All these barely-known things, and more totally-unknown ones, lie ahead. Out of the cocoon. No wonder I’m scared.
Still, the bigger thing is hope. As always, God keeps on calling, and I trust Him the tiniest bit of barely enough to follow.
Linking to Joy’s blog hop originating at Joy in This Journey: