Every 4-H-er is required to give a one-minute speech at a club meeting that must relate, however distantly, to some 4-H project. It’s my youngest son’s first year in 4-H, and, following in his brother’s footsteps, he thought he would try woodworking and give his speech about his project.
The project itself? Not a problem. He’s been working on a birdfeeder with my husband and is chock-full of new knowledge about squares and levels and tape measures.
The very short, very informal, no-one-expects-much-from-a-little-kid presentation? A huge problem. Perhaps the Everest of his eight-year-old life.
It wasn’t entirely a surprise that he balked at giving a speech, no matter how short. He has always been very shy, particularly when he feels all eyes are on him.
When he found out he’d have to give a short speech to meet 4-H requirements, he told me he’d just drop out all together. Of course, he was not allowed to do that, so he and I got down to the business of writing his speech. That was difficult enough. He was so worried about giving the speech that he couldn’t settle down and write it. But we got through it.
Then, he had to practice it in front of his siblings and my husband and I. My heart ached for him as he struggled to speak without stuttering or tearing up. And no matter how we encouraged him and shared our own stories of performing in front of others, he could not get the words out.
A small part of me wanted to let him throw in the towel. Maybe he wasn’t ready. Maybe I was asking too much of him. But I knew—and I told him this later—that if I let him avoid giving his speech, I would be setting him up for failure in the future. I knew he had to face his fear and do his best, come what may.
After all, I don’t think the Bible says anything like, “When times get tough, bail out.” Or, “When circumstances push you out of your comfort zone, push back.”
Just the opposite, in fact. God asks that we move forward in spite of any fear we may have, putting our faith in him and drawing our strength from him.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. – II Timothy 1:7
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. – Philippians 4:13
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. – Joshua 1:9
At our 4-H club meeting this past Sunday, my son gave his speech in a steady, clear voice, as if it were the most natural thing in the world for him. When it was over, I just grinned at him and told him I knew he could do it all along.
But on the inside, I was thanking God that he helped my son take one more step in conquering such a crippling fear.
I don’t ever want to regret that I didn’t encourage (or even require) my children to break out of their comfort zones and try new things or complete challenging tasks. I want them to be prepared to embrace whatever incredible adventures God may have in store for them throughout the rest of their lives.
What are your thoughts on comfort zones? Do you tend to hang out in them or try to break free? How do comfort zones impact the children in your life? As always, I’d love to hear from you.