Never in my middle school years had I been so proud at my church.
Our minister reserved the coveted spot of reading the Bible in front of the entire congregation for the coolest high school kids - and for some unknown reason, that week he picked me. ME. A lowly, braces - curly haired, measly jr. high kid.
I must have been something, because never before had he picked someone younger than a high school student to attain the honor.
I. Was. Awesome.
Clearing my throat, it was time. I had all the confidence a 12 year old could muster as I placed my finger on the initial word of the scripture. "And the Lord said..."
For whatever reason, I looked up. Lifting my eyes to see the entire congregation sitting and listening politely caused that one fraction of a second to become my own personal nightmare. I froze.
I had never taken public speaking or any other type of speech class at that point in my life, so nothing had prepared me for the feeling of what seemed like thousands of people sitting and gawking at how ridiculously stupid I must've suddenly seemed.
The words caught like cotton in my throat and my eyes teared, making it impossible to see the blurry words I was supposed to read next.
Returning my finger to where I'd left off, I tried tracing the lines of fuzzy black spots.
"What were the first words? Maybe try starting over..." My head spun as my stomach knotted and all I could hear was my pulse pounding through my ears.
"And the Lord said", I choked out the only four words I'd remembered as a tear plopped on the page. Some punk kid began to giggle and as I lifted my eyes, some of the adults had already begun clinging their hands to their chest with that whole, "Bless her heart", expression across their faces.
I was blowing it. Blowing it! No matter what I tried, it only got worse and before I could recover a fraction of my dignity, I squeaked out one last unearthly sound before I finally gave up and ran off, flying through the sanctuary and out to our car. Thank God I grew up in a small hometown because my parents didn't have to lock the doors, allowing me to hide out and ugly cry in the back seat for the remainder of the hour.
I'll never forget that day and since then, I've never been able to speak publicly for any reason.
Fast forward past weddings, conferences or any type of ceremony in life and that brings us to our eighth grade son, Christian. He's taken confirmation classes through our church for the entire past year and has enjoyed the experience. We've loved watching him grow in his knowledge and faith and couldn't have been happier with his walk.
This past week, however, Adam and I received an email stating that a handful of the eighth graders have been selected to lead the Confirmation Sunday service as their conclusion to the year.
As you can imagine, my stomach began to crawl to my throat as I followed the list of names only to find...you guessed it...our son's.
This is where a normal parent begins to beam with pride, but with one look, my husband knew my thoughts.
"What if it happens to him? How can I keep him from the same experience?"
The obvious answer was to politely decline the invitation to participate and shield him from my memories of disaster. That's what we do. Those are the struggles we have as parents. We use our past experiences - both good and bad - then make it almost impossible not to project them into living through our children whether we realize it or not. School, friends, sports, looking like a moron in front of crowds of people...
This is where God is good and provides wisdom over fear, however.
I am not my son and he doesn't have the heart stopping panic of public speaking like I do. It's my job not to put that on him.
We spoke to Christian about the opportunity, he said, "Cool." so I wrote an email back to the church thanking them for the offer and "gladly" accepted.
Tomorrow, he has two pages he has to read during the service and I don't know if I'll take a single breath through one spoken word.
He won't know that though. With one hand, I'll cling to my husband with the death grip strength only a mother can have, while with the other, I'll sneak Christian a tiny thumbs up as he walks to the front, putting the biggest smile on my face as my heart and fears go with him...all the while hoping he has the best experience as he reads his part...and praying he'll be able to carry that feeling of accomplishment with him, all the days of his life.