After moving out of the city and into the suburbs, the educational differences were a shock to my system. I was used to the inner city, where classrooms were full of other students that looked just like me.
Suddenly, my environment drastically changed. Minorities were the minority at Kenmore West High School. There were about five black kids in the entire student population.
Three, actually, if you don’t count me and my sister.
We were fish out of water.
I had no friends and many of my classmates gazed at me oddly, without speaking.
It felt intimidating to see that, of all the peer groups, I was a member of none of them. I was the outsider.
To make matters worse, much of the subject matter was well beyond what I had previously studied, so I fell behind. During some classes, I would sleep the whole time. I don’t think I was necessarily sleepy, but it was almost as if my brain shut down for lack of understanding.
Not feeling engaged or included, my curiosity quickly waned. Boredom overtook me and the sandman weighed down my eyelids.
My thoughts wandered off into la la land somewhere, then to dream-ville.
Then, lights out.
On the particular day when my instructor shook me out of my stupor, we were discussing American history and how some families had made their way up out of poverty by starting small businesses.
When I was asked to share my own experiences, I didn’t want to, but Mr. What’s-his-name insisted.
I felt all those pairs of eyeballs on me. The silence seemed audible as I spoke. I thought my nerves alone would activate my gag reflex. But I didn’t lose my composure, or my stomach—thank God.
I shared that my family’s lifestyle was very humble, even though Dad owned a restaurant in which I worked. What we made wasn’t nearly enough to make us one of those rich-people-success-stories or anything. Because of that, I didn’t think our little steak shop mattered, until my teacher’s eyes lit up.
He was impressed by our efforts and began using the details I shared to draw comparisons to historical events.
Suddenly, through the lens of my own experiences, the lesson came alive. Also, children began talking to me, asking questions about my origins and getting to know the person who appeared so different.
I wasn’t expecting all that.
I realized that talking in front of an entire classroom, though uncomfortable, was an effective way to share my voice. I learned in a small way that I had a story. I mattered. My perspective was worthy of an audience.
I felt a sense of joy despite the fact that my feelings of otherness did not go away.
I had made a step in the right direction and was determined to keep on stepping.
I was more active in class. I moved my seat closer to the front. I participated, asked questions and stopped dozing.
Something had changed in me. Before that, I was like a turtle—one that stayed in its shell all the time.
Timid and fearful, I retreated into the safe darkness of my hard outer shell and refused to poke my head out to get involved.
It took me many years to develop the courage to say yes to God’s urging to be more vocal and visible. When I answered His calling on my life, however, it was the best decision I ever made.
It is one I have to continue making daily, because there are always new opportunities to retreat.
For me to live out my purpose, I have to consciously kick fear to the curb and embrace the Lord’s plans for me.
You have to do the same thing.
And while it is true that our life’s paths are unique, what is required to walk along those separate paths is no different.
It takes exercising faith over fear.
Friend, being afraid to fail, face adversity or deal with challenges, is a recipe for a mediocre life. And that is not what God desires for you. He wants you to live an extraordinary, meaningful life through obedience to His plan.
You have the power to touch others, make an impact and leave behind a legacy.
If you want to do those things, you must not be a defeatist who expects failure and never tries for greater.
Strive to be everything the Lord placed you on this earth to be.
First, you have to cast fearfulness aside. Be bold, tenacious and confident in the Lord, who is able to work through you and empower you to do all things.
It’s time to eradicate fear and activate faith.
Let me warn you: stepping out in faith does not mean you will never feel fear.
Sometimes, as you stand, your knees will quake. Your stomach will churn. Your palms will sweat. Your mind will tell you, you can’t.
Do it anyway.
God will be with you, strengthening you and equipping you to do things you never thought possible.
He’s waiting for you to take the first step. Unlock those treasures within.
Don’t be afraid.
To help you along, I’m stirring the words of Isaiah 41:10 NIV into your cup of inspiration. That passage says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
As you drink down the contents of your cup, remind yourself that God has already empowered you. But it is up to you to use that power.
Peek your head from beneath that shell. A whole world awaits you.
Don't fear. Just trust.
Now let’s pray.
God, I know you have placed gifts and treasures within me. But sometimes, I allow fear to hold me back. Please help me place my confidence in You and trust that You have equipped me to do everything I am divinely assigned to do. Thank You for being with me every step of the way as I go forth, relying solely on Your strength. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
As always, thanks for reading and until next time... may today's cup of inspiration uplift, encourage, and empower you!
If you need prayer, don't hesitate to request it. I would be honored to stand in faith with you. I know that prayer works. CLICK HERE to learn how to submit your prayer request.