No one is a true fan of good old fashioned public humiliation. It’s the stuff nightmares are made of. We dream about appearing at school in our underwear or trapped in an elevator naked. Graduates still with fear that they might stumbled on their way onto the stage to get their degree. Nervous energy builds up in all of us. One slight mistake can you feel like Charlie Brown—nothing goes right, good grief!—and Lord help us if we see someone try something and fail or worse, try something, fail and humiliate themselves. People will always be people. We’re bound to make mistakes, a slip up here, a tongue-tie there—as humans we will stumble, we will fall, we might fail. There is an old Yiddish proverb that says “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” Because the fact of the matter is, you’ll never never fail. The only strategy you could employ to guarantee never failing, is never to try at all. The problem is, the only thing worse than failure, is never trying.
My friends often wonder how I, the drama queen, can be cool and composed while on stage, or speaking to a large crowd, and then panic later. It’s a running gag in my family that Sweet can have fun in front of a crowd but have a nervous breakdown all the hours before. Truth be known, I’m comfortable on stage now. It’s fun for me to be goofy and share with a group of people. The paradox is this; I am truly painfully shy when it comes to new people! No one believes me when I say this, but it’s true! My palms sweat, my feet wobble, and my heart starts racing at the idea of meeting someone new or worse, speaking in front of people.
The frequently asked question of the day?
“Why DO it, then?”
Well, I love it! For me, there is great fun in sharing humanity with humanity. We laugh, cry, and learn together. Nervousness shouldn’t get in the way of having an amazing experience. Whenever I get nervous, I just tell myself how great the experience will be. Nervousness is just a defense mechanism, and it’s mostly in our heads. When you break it down, all nervousness really is is wiring in our heads. If you meet someone you’re attracted to, you might get nervous. Who hasn’t been nervous before a massive final exam in a difficult class? We become eggs, cracking at any impact. And then…you guessed it…
We become chickens.
Fight or flight is a choice, and sometimes we choose flight. A few years back, before Kontrolled Chaos was founded, I was asked to speak to a group of my peers. I was in Children’s Ministry just as I am now and did plenty of lessons in front of children and teenagers but I rarely spoke in front of anyone out of puberty. This change in routine threw me outside of my comfort zone. Children are a forgiving audience. Trip, fall, and they’ll laugh, sure, but they’ll think it was done on purpose. Children like funny and goofy. Adults, I thought, were more serious. I turned the invitation down.
I told myself that I was strictly Kids Ministry but I regretted the decision immediately. I passed up a chance to expand my skills, to improve, to learn, and to grow. There were people I’d never meet, things I’d never do, and experiences I’d never have in each opportunity I passed by. Though this opportunity was right in front of me, I turned from it. The excuse was that I was “too goofy” for an opportunity like that. I knew the truth. When I said to the Pastor “My skills are with Children’s Ministry.” What I should have said was “Cluck, Cluck!”
Fear of failure is the enemy of all who wish to achieve anything in life. The Bible speaks of fear almost like it’s a plague. The only fear that has any place in the life of a Christian is the fear of the Lord. Romans 8 states that we’re more than conquerors in all things, including our endeavors. Failure honestly doesn’t exist until you’ve given up because for those who wish to achieve something, what is considered failure is only an opportunity to learn and improve. In short, you only fail when you give up trying.
When you break nervousness and the like down, it’s unspoken anxiety. We become almost neurotic about the what ifs. When my friend Jody and I founded Kontrolled Chaos, we refused to indulge the what ifs; we didn’t waste thought on issues we didn’t have. To every what if that came to mind, I combatted it with a what a.
What if you trip on the stage? What an icebreaker!
What if you mix up the order? What a fresh approach!
What if meets its match.
Pessimism is met with optimism.
Fear met with courage.
In the end, if your dreams are aligned with a Kingdom mindset, you have nothing to be concerned about. God covers all our shortcomings with his love. We can make fools of ourselves for the Kingdom, because in God’s eyes we are credited with righteousness. I’ll be even more foolish, said King David, and I will be undignified but as for those who speak of me, I will be held in honor (2 Samuel 6:22).
We can cluck around all we really want, but is that the way you want your journey to end? A God of greatness did not purpose you to cluck any more than He purposed dogs to meow. It’s just not in your God-given destiny. Delusions of grandeur and imaginings of public humiliation are both a little extreme. But when purpose meets courage, there is nothing that can be place in the path that won’t be destroyed. Taking that step out, boldly, changes the game. There is a mountain of opportunity before you.
Don’t cluck; Climb!
D. Sweet Loper