It was called Poetry Time and here's how it went. We were to volunteer (or be voluntold) to go to the front of the classroom, say the title of the poem and then proceed to recite the poem without rushing. We were required to stay poised and calm as we spoke, so the class could understand what we were saying and so our teacher could grade us properly. I practiced more than I actually needed to for the first poem, because I wanted to be the first to volunteer. The idea I had in my head was if I volunteered first my teacher would know how hard I practiced and know I remembered the poem without getting to hear it 23 times before reciting it for myself. (Some called me the overacheiver for things like this. It was just a ruse, for my natural inclining in all that was to please someone and to have approval/applause.) Some of my classmates had a very opposite approach to the task. Practice while everyone else recited. (they were probably smarter than I) Anyway. I called on myself to be first. And, I walked up to the front of the classroom as calmly as I could manage. Really, I had to hold myself back from skipping to the front. I was SO excited to share! As I stood in front of the classroom with 48 sets of eyes looking back at me, (23 classmates + my teacher. Quick math y'all) I froze. I panicked. My memory of the last week of repeating and rehearsing left my brain in an instant as NOTHING came out of my mouth...not even breath! I never knew I was fearful of speaking to a crowd until that moment or I would have rehearsed that part a little better. I left the room in a puddle of tears headed for the bathroom. I locked myself in the first stall and cried hard. The confidence from the past 4 days of practice had gone, and left me looking like a fool in front of my friends. My teacher came for me, of course. I couldn't totally escape or melt into the floor or flush myself to China like I wanted. I had to go back and face my fear. The second attempt was with much less fanfare in my head and more concentration on the task ahead...getting through the poem. I know I got through it, however I have no memory of it.
Confidence is a funny thing. I thought I had it when it came to Poem Time and Spelling Bee's, and Mad Minute (math contests) because I knew what was going to be asked of me and knew all the answers. But, when the pressure was on, sometimes that confidence would fly away fast and hard. Even now when it comes to parenting, I feel like I know the answers because of my background in Early Childhood Education and child development. But, when I'm faced with my real, live children with real, live problems sometimes I'm stumped and have to use my "phone a friend" pass for help. I feel a little like Maria in The Sound of Music as she's going to the Von Trapp family home to care for the children while singing "I have confidence in confidence alone. Besides what you see, I have confidence in me." She doesn't really have confidence does she? It takes her an entire trip from the abbey to the family estate to muster up that "confidence" to care for the seven challenging children.
One place in my life that I haven't struggled with confidence (at least since I was about 13 years old) is in my relationship to and with God. He's absolutely the least concrete, least tangible part of my life, but at the same time the most real to me. This week, I received an email from one of the encouraging places on the internet, to which I subscribe, called Thrive Moms. They put out a weekly email with a scripture and an encouraging message for Moms. I love having scripture in front of me daily and they provide an extra dose of it weekly for me. Anyway. The scripture focus for this week is Psalm 108:1. The ESV version says it this way, "My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!"
STEADFAST! I love that word. Mirriam-Webster dictionary defines steadfast as: very devoted or loyal to a person, belief, or cause: not changing. If I claim my heart as steadfast to someone, I have confidence in that person. I don't doubt God because He has never failed me and His word says He won't either. No wonder I can worship with ALL my being, everything in me without shame or fear, because I have FULL confidence in God! He's not going to make me look like a fool at anytime. I may look foolish to the world because the things and places to which He calls me, but I can have full confidence in following Him, because Psalm 34:5 says "those who look to the Lord are radiant, their faces shall never be covered in shame." I have times like everyone where I doubt myself. I don't really have confidence in me. But, I do have confidence in God.