I now know what it is called: Collywobbles. This is the feeling you get when you are about to enter a meeting or about to stand on the stage for a performance. The feeling is best described as having butterflies in your stomach.
Except that I don’t get butterflies in my stomach, I get dragons and dinosaurs in my stomach. I remember the feeling the first time I was asked to pray in front of the a crowd. It was one of those training moments I got from my parents. I was in fourth grade and in the juniors class for our Sabbath School that my father was leading. He volunteered me to the take part in the worship service for kids. I resisted but everyone seemed open to the idea. So I was given the task. I knew how to pray, but most of the time, I did it alone. I haven’t done it in front of the crowd, much more in a crowd where most of the kids know each other. They all studied in the church school while I was a total outsider. I thought, what if I goofed up and they all laugh? What if I spoke and mixed up all the words? I’d be the talk of their school.
The song service started.
The participants were asked to go outside to prepare. I felt like I was being dragged to some forbidden place. I tried to write down my prayer but my hands were shaking too much I just couldn’t concentrate. My eyes were pleading to stop this madness. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to run away and hide in the bathroom. I was feeling sick. I asked to go to the bathroom but it was too late.
We filed in one by one. No encouragements from anyone because they hardly knew me. What will I say? How do I begin? What if I made a mistake? I tried to concentrate on the song but my mind was raving. What am I doing?
Suddenly everyone kept quiet. Everyone was looking at me. The song was over. It was my turn. I asked everyone to kneel. I kneeled like I fell down. I mumbled a few words and forgot what I had to say. I stomped my knees in frustration. I didn’t know if the other kids heard the wood creaking under my legs or my cry of anguish. I ended the prayer abruptly. I think I was in the middle of the sentence but suddenly ended it.
The butterflies continued until the service ended. I didn’t understand what the speaker was saying all those time. I was only focusing on my botched prayer. I was honestly waiting for lightning to hit me or a black hole to eat me alive. None of those happened to my dismay. I figured that I won’t show my face here again next week.
The next week I was back in the room, I forgot that my father was in charge so I had no choice. I also figured that these kids might have short memories because they volunteered me to pray again a few weeks later.
Looking back, it was bad but it was the beginning of a desire in me to be better. I figured, I wasn’t given the part just to make fun of me, but to make me feel the need to grow, to be better and to conquer my fear. I may have been embarrassed but if not for it, I wouldn’t strive to know who I am praying to and for. I wouldn’t have desired to know Christ better.
Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round—we get afraid because we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’