I found myself caught up in a maze of chaos with no way out struggling to find hints to an exit that seemed not to exist. I had stepped out in faith but lost my footing and the nightmare began.
My sister had called me and explained that the pastor’s wife she previously invited to speak at the women’s conference had to cancel due to illness then in her sweet “pretty please” voice asked me to come speak in her place. There was a long pause on my end as I began to think, maybe even breathe and it seemed like an eternity before either of us spoke. You see, I suffer acute stage fright or performance anxiety whatever you choose to call it, it’s my phobia, an impairment I’ve always had. I’ve had many stage moments in my life whether it be speaking or performing and my very first stage experience started as a little girl singing with my family. You would think by now it would be child’s play to walk across the stage with confidence and do what I was there to do but not in my case.
Fear has always been a huge factor in my life and because of this fear I went to lengths to avoid any possibility of “being on stage.” I was a wonderful “comfort zone” dweller and preferred staying in that arena but many times throughout my life, I secretly battled this anxiety and took the stage to make others happy not realizing the many opportunities I traded for the zone of comfort but because it was my sister, her persuasion would not take much effort.
After accepting this speaking engagement, I immediately went to war with my fears which hindered my concentration of finding a suitable topic to speak on. I was only given two days notice. How scary is that? So I locked myself in my bedroom with my bible, soft music and a tall glass of iced cold sweet tea and of course, my good ole notepad and pen. For many hours I struggled trying to find a possible way out of this commitment more so than a topic to speak on. The anxiety became so horrendous that I got on the floor and lay prostrate in all my humility with tears raining down my face. I prayed with everything I had begging God to come to my disoriented world and fix everything.
Well, to my dismay, there was no thundering down voices from above or earth-shattering miracles like the red sea parting kind that I was expecting. I was searching for peace, struggling through my own chaos and suddenly I heard the lyrics to a song playing in the background and as I listened closely a rendering began to take place in my mind. ” As soon as I stop worrying, worrying how the story ends, I let go and I let God have his way. That’s when things start happening, I’ll stop looking at back then I let go and I’ll let God have his way.” That very rendering saved the day as I took a deep breath and exhaled my worries into the atmosphere and God took it from there and I was up and with pen in hand I began to put into writing the topic I would be speaking on.
The time had come and my name was announced, I felt those familiar nerves striking up but I heard those words in my mind, ” as soon as I stop worrying, I let go and let God have his way,” and I felt sweet peace walking to the podium with me. I set my notes on the stand, stepped back and looked out into the audience and for the first time ever being on a stage I felt calm and relaxed. I was able to get through my speech and needless to say it was a productive speech with lots of laughs and a few tears too.
After I stepped down and joined the other ladies, my brother-n-law walked up to me and handed me a note. When I sat down, I looked at the note and tears filled my eyes as I read the words; “Diamonds are formed under pressure, in the dark, over long periods of time.” I did not feel like a diamond at all. I never had! I have walked across big stages since that event, but every time I do the words from that song infiltrate my mind and I remember that God is my source of peace so I give my worries to him, but I still don’t feel like diamond material as I lack the final touches that would make me stand out.
I’ve always had a coal mentality and felt like the “rough” while hiding away unpolished and unqualified. I never felt like I was good enough and always took a back seat to others in my life to let them shine. It was where I felt most comfortable and still am to this day. I keep the note (in the above photo) in my Bible where it has been since the day it was given to me. Little does the giver know that it is that very note that gets me through my fears and gives me a boost when I feel I’m just not in the same league. I read it every time I performed during my piano competitions, or performing anywhere. Even though I’m still in the rough, embedded within me and within each of you are diamond-like qualities ready to be mined but we have to be willing to take the cutting, the polishing and all the pressures that come to bringing out the diamond within.
I am that diamond. Oh I may not look like it, I certainly don’t sparkle nor is there any clarity but I am multifaceted without glory. If there were any glory to be found in anything I do, it would belong to God not me. God is the master jeweler the highly skilled artisan chipping away all those rough edges bit by bit. Malachi 3:17 tells us that God declares, “And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels.” God sees the beauty buried deep within us and while we may only see insignificant, worthless faces staring back at us in the mirror, God will ALWAYS see you as His precious, extraordinary creation.