She was standing on stage, all of 42 inches tall, wearing a red, white, and blue Little Miss America Jr. t-shirt, shorts, knee highs socks, sweat band, and brand new white tennies.

This little girl was me in the ’80s which explains why I was rocking the sweatband. The bright lights created a haze over the audience leaving me unable to find my family in the crowd. My knees resembled the infamous Elvis dance gone bad. Huge light bulbs lined both sides of the stage.

It was my turn to speak as the host made his way over to me, mic in hand to ask me a few simple questions, my name, age, and of course, ‘what would you like to be when you grow up?’ I heard clearly what the MC asked, yet I stood there speechless. An uncomfortable hush filled the room. I wanted so badly to break the silence, yet no words escaped my lips. It was this moment at the ripe age of five, I would allow to silence me for decades to come.

Invisible chains have the power to take hold and influence our future.

Looking back to my adolescence, time after time, when asked to speak in front of an audience, at school or church, I would revert back to the five-year-old version of myself crippled by fear. The shame of silence followed me all of those years later. Fear had taken hold.

Fear. The little four-letter word that is responsible for stealing our time, our confidence, our gifts, our ability to live in the present. It is so experienced at distracting us until ultimately it feels impossible to move forward. It can paralyze us into believing we aren’t capable or worthy of living a life in peace.

Fear is not discriminatory. It is lurking around every corner. It is a debilitating, dream snatching, but only until we stand up and face it. These missteps that caused us fear are merely stepping stones. The sooner we step over the wreckage of fear and move on, the more confidently we will step into the life God intended for us.

I’m quite certain no one in the Little Miss America audience way back when remembers my blank stare and silent voice. Over the years I built what was meant to be a small blip on the radar of my life, into something exponentially larger than it was ever meant to be. If only like our devices, we had a trash option for memories we could do without. Just a quick drag and drop and no longer would they have the power to keep us up all night. Once we acknowledge what has taken root in our heart that doesn’t belong there, it’s what we do from here that can change the projection of our lives.

The pandemic happening in our world is accompanied by fear. It arrived and flooded our lives without much notice. It disrupted our routine and demanded immediate changes. But this disease and the fear we have of it is not permanent. Nothing on this earth that we can see, touch, or own, is forever. None of it. 

It’s time to rebuild on a new foundation. Not one built of shifting sands, forever changing depending on our circumstances, but instead built on the Rock. A firm foundation, Who never changes. The foundation that calls us beloved, chosen, and fearfully and wonderfully made.

Continuously, I have to ask God to reveal to me how He sees me.

When I am left in charge, I see the tarnished version of myself, but when I turn to Him as His child, I remember He has gifted me with everything I need. 

During this time with so much changing, maybe He wants us still so we can finally see without the busy schedules and commuting, who He really made us to be. How incredible, if through all of this we begin to see our reflection as a true vision of who we are. Exchanging our fear for strength.

How we see ourselves will either encourage us to reach our full potential or deter us. When we allow His truth to pour into us, we are able to pour into our families. Trust me when I say I need this message maybe more than anyone reading this. I believe I write what God is saying to me and in sharing this I hope you know you are not alone.

It’s time we drag and drop into the trash can, our shame, and focus on this present day that we are in good hands. His plan is a perfect one, so we don’t have to be.

Those who look to Him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.

Psalm 34:5