Our church had their primary program on Sunday and all the kids 3-12 got up in front of everybody to give their prepared part of the program. I love that at such a young age, my children are exposed to the fear of being in front of a large congregation. I’m often amazed at the ease in which many of the kids stand up so confidently and speak; its almost as if they don’t know to be scared in that situation. Hunter stood up and without any promptings or help recited, “When I came to earth I got a family.”
Of course it’s a proud mother moment and I caught his eye as he took his seat and he was beaming with pride. Hallie’s turn was a little bit later in the program and she had a much longer part; she had to share an experience on prayer. She had memorized it and had recited it many times and in her confidence she left her written part at home because she knew she wouldn’t need it.
As she stood up to podium, she started in a very loud and clear voice and spoke with authority. Within a couple sentences she was stuck on what to say next. She continued to stand there without making a sound with eyes full of terror. My heart began to race for her. I sat in the audience trying to mouth her the next sentence but failed to help her. I could see she was reciting her part in her head, and I knew she would eventually catch up to where she was stuck but it seemed to be taking forever.
Part of me wanted her to just stop where she got stuck and be done, but she stood up there for almost a minute before it came to her and she finished her story. Relief settled over me when she was able to return to her chair on the very front row. Relief was quickly replaced with a heavy heart as I saw the tears start to roll down her porcelain cheeks. I wanted to go grab her and throw my arms around her. I wanted to take her out of the room and let her have her private moment. I wanted to cry with her.
She was one of the last presenters and by the time we were singing the closing song, her tears had dried. As the program ended, all the kids filed down the stairs and into the loving arms of their proud parents. Hallie came rushing down smiling ear to ear and I thought she might have already forgotten the horrifying minute she had at the podium. As we embraced, I said how proud I was of her and how amazing she was; she had already buried her head in my chest and was sobbing. I ached for her because I knew just how hard it was for her, especially because she’s such a perfectionist and she had worked so hard to memorize it. I consoled her and offered her every ounce of love I could give her and every word of encouragement and then it was time for her to go to class so she wiped her eyes and gave me one last hug and she went on her way.
I thought about her all through the rest of church and by the time we got home I knew what I wanted to tell her: “Sometimes we have to do things that make us uncomfortable, even to the point that it brings us to tears, but those experiences are good for us. We do hard things and I know standing up there today was really hard for you, but you did it and I’m so proud of you for sticking with it and finishing your story. I know you like to be the best and you expect to be perfect – but it’s more important to do your best and that’s exactly what you did.”
Although it hurt me to see her struggle, I knew this was good for her. She was stretched in ways that would be uncomfortable for any grown adult, and I’m glad she starting to learn these things now in a loving and learning environment – not to mention I’m learning and growing every step of the way with her.