I wouldn’t say I was a shy child but I was not confident speaking to a crowd. This was something I loathed doing and would look for every excuse not to be the centre of attraction or hide. I was always conscious of what people would say, how they would look at me. I usually had millions of questions racing through my mind like- ‘What if I made mistakes?’ etc.

Several years ago, when I had to speak to the workers in my church for the first time, I was so terrified. I prayed, fasted and studied like I was going to speak at a conference to an audience in their thousands rather than to about a hundred or so people. Throughout the talk, I refused to look into anyone’s face. My heart was beating so fast I felt sure the people in the front row could hear (there goes my very imaginative mind again). Somehow during the talk, despite the trepidation, excitement began to seep in. Explaining the things God had spoken to me was exciting. When the 30 minutes was over, I felt I could go on for another 30 minutes. Two ladies sent me notes later saying the word was exactly what they needed. I knew that was God encouraging me and I was thankful.

Did I make some mistakes that day? I surely did. Did I feel like running away at some point during the talk? Yes! Yes! Yes! But I didn’t.

While on holiday recently with the whole family, we stayed in a hotel that was several storeys high. On our first night, a policeman came knocking at our door and my children ran to my room to tell me. She came to inform us that a young man had jumped from one of the balconies of the hotel and she wanted to find out if we had heard anything. We got in at about 1 am, so we had all slept and didn’t hear a thing.

I was thoroughly shaken. What would make a young man check into a beautiful hotel just to kill himself? I quickly called my children together and began an impromptu talk on suicide and why it was not necessary, letting them know I was there for them always, etc. The teenage ones were quick to respond with a ‘Yes mom!’ My last daughter was as visibly shaken as I was, not fully grasping the whole thing. I began to think of the trauma the young man’s family would be go through and why he felt he did not have anything to live for.

Later that day the Lord gave me this word which helped shed light on the whole ordeal.

Matthew 25:14-25 talks about the man who gave away talents to three men- one had five, one had two and the last one had one. The first two traded with their talents and made profits, but the last one dug the earth and hid his talent because he felt his master was unjust and did not deserve more than what he had given him.

A lot of people focus on others rather than on themselves, they are constantly thinking- ‘People will talk so let me hide and not do anything’. This ‘I don’t want to be made fun of’ syndrome starts from a young age. I always tell my children to not hide but freely express themselves in class and never let anyone shut them up. My last daughter while in Grade 1 had a hurtful experience- a classmate of hers asked all those in class who were princesses to raise their hands and my daughter also did. She asked my daughter to put her hands down as princesses are slim like her and not the way my daughter is. Can you imagine? I felt like going to school to beat the little girl for hurting my daughter, but of course I didn’t. Rather, I let my daughter know that she is a princess and spent a lot of time developing her self esteem. I told her repeatedly not to let anyone shut her up or put her down.

Going back to the passage, the man that hid his one talent did not pay attention to his ability; rather he looked at others and thought he had nothing. I always tell myself that people doing great things for God don’t have two heads, so why can’t I do the same and more (you see I have come a long way from that fearful lady preaching to workers). The moment you begin to allow others make you feel like you are nothing because you don’t look a certain way, or talk a certain way or dress a certain way, then you will live an empty life hiding away all your wonderful talents and eventually depression sets in.

Who says you have to be a certain way to succeed or make impact? The man with no legs and no arms talks to thousands all over the world. Helen Keller was blind, yet she wrote several books. There is no right way to look or dress, you are unique and special. Understand that there is a reason you do things the way you do, and appreciate the way you are wired. In my years as a counsellor, I have spoken to several people and realised that everyone has issues, it’s just the ability to mask them that differs.

Refuse to hide and begin to do that which you feel led to. You have been postponing writing that book long enough, it’s time to start. The business you are scared will not succeed has only failed in your imagination. When we started gemWoman seven years ago, I was like a baby who didn’t know how to walk properly. Over the years I have made mistakes but I understand that does not make me a failure. Have there been tough times? Many, but we learn from our mistakes and move on. One thing is certain, I refuse to be ordinary.

Every one of us was born to make impact. That young man came to the hotel, hide himself and eventually died.

You are like a plant that needs sun to grow. It’s time to stop hiding and fully express what your talents are.

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