Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Sara. She loved life, Christmas and Jesus.
Everything was an adventure.
When she was about 5, Sara began going to school. She made friends and developed a love of music and reading.
As she got older, Sara began to have trouble in school, especially math and science. Friends began to treat her differently, some even poked fun at her learning “disabilities”. Some teachers became frustrated with her, and Sara quickly learned that school is not a safe place in which to be yourself.
The adventure was over.
Sara learned to compensate for academic challenges by excelling in music (piano, singing and violin), creating a shell of safety around her life. Sara had a close circle of dear friends who remain her friends to this day, however, the oppression of her earlier school years kept Sara from fully letting go of her shell.
Sara graduated from college, worked as a social worker, did mission work and embraced her personality as sweet Sara, quiet and reserved, a good listener, and great to hang out with one-on-one.
Sara began her graduate studies in theology in the same way she’d always done anything: quietly, like an orchid in the background. Although fully engaged, she was not ready to let go of her shell and take the risks that would help her grow. Her papers indicated she understood the material, so forfeiting a few participation points in favor of staying safe and silent in class was a worthy trade-off.
Then, Sara enrolled in a preaching class – a required class for her degree. She was petrified: she would have to deliver 2 sermons in front of an entire class of 15 people. In spite of herself, Sara learned to get outside of herself, little by little. As she got to know her classmates, she began to trust and to find safety in the community setting they had created.
Sara’s first sermon went so well, she was beside herself to do it again. Only, this time, she took a risk. Sara put more of herself into her second sermon than she had ever shared publicly, ever.
She didn’t fail. Her classmates did not reject her. Instead, she was encouraged with compliments and uplifting suggestions.
Sara finished her semester well and not only “made it through preaching class alive” which had been her goal, but she gained good friends and a safe community in which to be herself.
Through the course of 15 or so weeks in preaching class, Sara became re-aquainted with “inner Sara”, the little girl that had been walled off a long time ago, so she would always stay protected.
Sara realized in this process, that she does have good things to say,that she is intelligent and insightful, that she is funny and that she is in a school where it IS safe to be yourself.
Sara loves life (and preaching), and her McAfee community, Christmas, and Jesus;
and everything is an adventure.