When I was in school, I rarely raised my hand in class.  I aimed for once a week.  Not once a week per class, but once a week.  Period.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know the answer, 95% of the time I did, but I was afraid of that other 5% chance.  What if I was wrong?  What would everyone else think if I offered an answer that was not correct?  Unfounded fear drowned out my voice.  I felt like a budding flower, so unsure of the petals within that I refused to allow them to come out.  In retrospect, has there ever been an ugly flower? Has a bloom failed to give sweet fragrance?  I’ve never seen or smelled anything but perfection.

After my high school graduation I continued to struggle with a lack of self-confidence.  Dominated by a controlling emotion for 18 years, I did not change overnight.  I continued to be quiet, sharing what was inside with only those closest to me; ones I knew wouldn’t laugh if I were wrong.  Secretly, I wanted the confidence to become all I truly was inside.

There was one place however, where I found freedom, for there was no one to judge my voice.  Worship—expressing my deepest thoughts, lingering questions and vibrant delight.  While I was afraid of man’s words, I was confident in the love of my Father.  God made me, he crafted every bit of me with purpose; surely he loved every expression of my heart.  I was fairly certain that his ears heard more than just the sound I made or the words I spoke.  God embraced something of a deeper value and a greater truth than the words I tried to hide behind—he heard my heart.

Worship became my secret place, this sacred garden where God says that I’m beautiful.  He never tells me to stop, he simply says, “Will you stay awhile with me?”  Surrounded by lush, vibrant life my heart bloomed in the hand of the One who held it.  As I found confidence in my Father’s love, I found the courage to more openly share my ideas and creative expressions.  It’s been a long journey.  I’m not 18 anymore and yet, in some places, the fear still lingers.  I can say though, that it has been a truly remarkable path, and I’m not at the end of it.  I’m excited to see what God has planned in this next season of my life.

I know that I’m stronger now, and less afraid.  I’ve seen the way God has used the voices of those around me to speak his amazing words of life.  At times, these words challenged me, calling me to come up higher and work harder than ever before.  I still don’t like being wrong, but I cherish opportunities to learn, to embrace a new skill and the potential to be a bit more like Jesus.  I continue moving forward, further from the clutches of fear, drawn by the one who will always love me.  Traveling this path has given me a better view of who I am.  I’ve found a voice of encouragement within me, a heartbeat of heaven driving me forward, enabling me to speak words of life over another.  This only happens because Jesus lives in me, without him I’d have nothing to give.

This week I’m going to share a bit of this journey with you, in the hope that you too will find greater confidence in God’s tangible love for you and see that your voice matters.