Thursday, July 21, 2011

Leave Your Shell Behind THIS SUMMER!

One thing I am: Outgoing. One thing I'm not: A natural born leader.

I don't lead. Yes, I've lead cheers, but cheerleading doesn't count at all in this case. I'm the kind of girl who will talk to you and possibly annoy you, but when it comes to giving a speech or performing in front of an audience, I'd rather take a step back. It's okay to not be a leader, but sometimes it makes you miss out on incredible friendships and opportunities.

Reason #1 to leave your shell behind: You're gifted.
Do you have a talent or spiritual gift? Do you want to use it, but you're afraid? I can relate. I discovered that I have an ability to sing well last year, and I've been singing my heart out ever since. It was at a Wednesday night church service that it suddenly struck me: I could use my gift to lead ThExperience (our church youth group) in worship! I believe it was a calling, and I was so excited to actually use one of my talents to reach out and help other people grow in their faith. But something kept holding me back.

I'll be honest here. Public speaking is one of my biggest fears. You might be thinking: "Singing and speaking? They're the same, but they're completely different, Hope". Now, I'll tell you why I mentioned that, just keep reading and promise not to laugh or something like that.

The worship leader usually prays between songs or something. I... I'm... I can't even describe it. I know how to pray, but... I just don't even know why I'm afraid of praying out loud. But that is the only thing holding me back, and I just can't do it.

Mrs. Jenilee was talking to a friend of mine, Amy*, a long time ago at our homeschool banquet, and she (Amy) was saying that she didn't want to go to Missions Extreme (an in-state missions trip) because she would be a junior leader this year and they make junior leaders give sermons. Wanna know what Mrs. Jenilee said? "If that's what's keeping you from going, you need to go". I wasn't thinking about joining a worship team before that, but now that I think about it, it's the same thing. If that's the only thing keeping me from joining the youth band, I need to join.

Same for you. If there's a specific thing keeping you from following through with a dream of yours, you need to just go for it anyway. Even if things don't work, you can at least say you tried.

Reason #2 to leave your shell behind: You're becoming clique-y.
We did this thing last night in youth when we wrote down some answers to a few questions, one of them being: How much do you really feel apart of this group? Although I normally wouldn't have said my answer, I'm gonna be honest with you. 5 out of 10 I feel apart of our group. I feel that we're all way too clique-y. And being honest with myself on that, it made me realize that I'm kinda clique-y.

The clique-y girls are some of the people I never would have wanted to befriend because I thought they didn't want to be friends with me. And then there's the kids that no one will hang around. The kids that sit in the same chair with the same kids every Wednesday, just waiting for someone to sit by them but no one will do it. It's a problem on everyone's part, even mine.

I hang around the same kids every Wednesday. Maria, my sister Faith, Kayla, and occasionally my friends Brittany and Baileigh. And I'm sick of it. I'm the same person who hated those girls who hang around each other all the time when look at me! I'm doing the same thing.

So today I'm changing that.

We all have this problem. It isn't easy stepping out of a clique, and you don't have to do that entirely, but try to find one person who seems to need a friend at the moment. My friend Marvin said last night, "You might make new friends, you might make new enemies. But at least you can say you tried."

Reason #3: You don't even know you're gifted.
Many people will say "I don't know" when you ask what they're talented in. It took me a long time to get out of my shell and try something new. When I was little, I was focused on learning how to play my guitar and being awesome at it. I wrote little books that clearly showed I had a writing talent, but I never followed through with it (until now). Starting to sing was crazy, though.

I've been interested in singing since fourth grade. Eight years old (going on nine). Wanna know what held me back? I didn't think I could sing. So I kept myself from Fun Arts (now I'm in Fine Arts) and talent shows until the sixth grade. When I finally performed my first solo, I felt like keeping myself from doing this was a waste of time. Once again, I held myself back from something I'm good at. So now I'm progressing, improving my vocal skills, and trying to increase my vocal range. Had I not waited so long, that could have been done for in the fifth grade. But I was too scared to start. Next time I feel I should try, I'm not gonna say "Yeah, but..." I'm gonna do it.

Reason #4: You're the one being left out.
You're the one being left out? Really? Or are you separating yourself from the conversation? Maybe it's not your fault, but try to find a group where you think you belong. A way I find where I belong is that I sort people by what music they listen to. In my youth group (and the whole church), there's the Deas Vail kids, and that's me, my friend Sarah, her brother Brian, and another kid Nathan. There's the metal kids, and that's a kid named Elijah, my friend Leah, and I'm half in that group, also (I love Flyleaf!). There's the pop kids, and everyone likes that. There's even the Johnny Cash kids. By finding what music they listen to, you might find that you have compatible personalities. You'll find a friend, I promise.

So, what do you say?
Are you ready to leave your shell behind this summer? Are you ready to step into school fearlessly? Join that band? Preach that sermon? Go for it! You'll thank yourself someday.

*Name is an alias.

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