I endure the malady of stage fright, even while proclaiming that I will gladly make a fool of myself on stage / in public for children, especially at Vacation Bible School (VBS).
One afternoon while serving as VBS Director, I spilt Mountain DewTM on my feet as I left the house for church. I was a mess. I had failed to come up with a personal story that coordinated with the daily verse. I ran back, grabbing red leather tie-up flats. My ensemble did not match, but I was out of time. Everything was going wrong!
I arrived at church flustered. Everyone gathered in the sanctuary. From my view at the lectern, I saw sincere little faces. Traditionally I hold onto the podium to avoid talking with my hands. Feeling like I had a mouth full of cotton, I walked onto the open floor with the microphone.
My sticky mishap with the soda pop became my opening. Giggles ensued. Humour is good. I relaxed. I looked down.
“What do these red shoes have to do with VBS?” Puzzled looks were my answer as I struck a pose, showing off my red footwear. I described a childhood shopping date with my mum and big sister, playing under clothing racks and losing sight of my family.
The complete silence of the group kept me going.
I recounted the loudspeaker request for the mother of the little girl in the red shoes to come to the front of the store. I portrayed the feeling of watching my red shoe-covered feet seemingly GROW in front of my eyes while listening to the loudspeaker.
That may be the root of my shyness of the microphone in public.
Curious looks met my eyes when I asked the kids if the red shoes were similar. Taking another deep breath, I told them, “’I once was lost, but now I’m found”, just like the song Amazing Grace. My mom recognised me by my red shoes! These red shoes remind me that when I get lost, God knows how to find me!” The children applauded. My volunteers applauded. There were a lot of hugs.
I CAN speak in public!
There was my story for the children, a story that would not have been told had I not spilt my soda pop in a panicked rush over not having a children’s story prepared. My dry mouth syndrome dissipated while my spirit soared. From fiasco to finale, the irony lingers.
Now, when I bump into a former student who addresses me, “Hey, Bible School Lady!” I know that my stage fright, ever present, cannot prevent me from doing the job I am called to do. There are stories to tell and souls to touch.
Divine inspiration comes when least expected, from locations as low as our feet. Take a deep breath. Look down, up, and out. Let the words flow. Fear is conquered one (sometimes sticky) step at a time.