What To Do When You’re Nervous
For years, my son has begged to do gymnastics.
Mainly, I think, because his big sisters do gymnastics and he wants to be just like them. Every week since he was a baby, he and I have taken his big sisters to their class. Then, when he started talking, every week he would say, “John gymnastics! John tampoline!”
Grimacing, I had to crush his dreams. “No, baby. This time it’s only for your sisters.”
For three long years he waited.
And finally, just a few weeks ago, he got ‘John gymnastics.’
It was a momentous occasion.
I imagined he would frolic and climb and tumble with a huge smile plastered to his face, the way his sisters did when they first started gymnastics.
But I was wrong.
Instead, he spent the entire time standing statue-like, in one spot, too nervous to move. I think he may have blinked twice the entire hour.
When he was at his most nervous, he would look to us—his dad, his sisters, and me—as we cheered for him in the viewing area. His big eyes bulged, his thick lips stuck in a firm, straight line. Fear froze his entire body. Then he’d stick out his little hand, sign “I love you” and give us a trembling thumbs up. In turn, we would do the same thing right back. Encouraged by that quick exchange, not only would he blink, he actually moved to the next station on the floor. It was miraculous. The whole class went like this:
Freeze in terror. Look to family. Sign I love you. Cartwheel.
Freeze in terror. Look to family. Sign I love you. Twirl.
Freeze. Family. I love you. Handstand.
Freeze. Family. Love. Go.
The other people in the viewing area must have thought we were nuts. There we were, this humungous family of tiny people, huddling close to the window, repeatedly doing weird things with our hands while laughing our heads off about some boy who refused to move from his spot on the floor.
But as we headed home, I realized my son might have a lot more figured out than we gave him credit for.
You see, for years, I’ve asked God to transform me into a saint.
I look at the lives of the saints throughout the past 2,000 years and want to be just like them. And every night, when I pray, I ask God to turn my family into saints for Him.
But God doesn’t just zap sainthood into our souls. He gives us opportunities to practice virtue and love, and inject those things into a world where they are absent.
I, by no means, have become a saint. Still waiting for that.
But I have, many times, gotten the chance to practice.
After all, there’s a lot going on in our world that makes me nervous.
God probably imagined I would speak and write and love with a huge smile plastered to my face, the way my brothers and sisters did when they practiced sainthood.
But He was wrong.
Instead, I’ve spent many-a-time standing statue-like, in one spot, my mind a jumbled haze of confusion, too nervous to move.
Often, I’m so nervous, I don’t know what to do. Fear freezes my entire body.
But it’s then, when I’m at my most nervous, I look to God, knowing full-well how hard He’s cheering for me. I put my hands together in prayer and tell God I love Him. In turn, He does the same thing right back. Encouraged by that quick exchange, not only can I blink, but I can actually move. It’s miraculous. My whole life goes like this:
Freeze in terror. Look to God. Say I love Him. Speak.
Freeze in terror. Look to God. Say I love Him. Write.
Freeze. God. Love Him. Serve.
Freeze. God. Love. Go.
Many people probably think I’m nuts. There I am, this awkward lady with a humungous family full of tiny people, voicing my love for everyone, repeatedly typing up weird stories on my blog. All the while, laughing my head off about…well, pretty much everything…even when there doesn’t appear to be much to laugh about these days.
Because when we ask to be saints, God doesn’t grimace or crush those dreams. Instead, He says that’s exactly what we are made for. Then He becomes our light, love, and joy so we can inject those things into a world where they are absent.