I cowered in the corner of my playpen. On the other side, also cowering and staring straight back at me was Clucky, our bantam hen. We both stood there trembling, staring at each other, neither of us willing to move an inch.
How did I find myself in this position?
It had all started when Mum had gone off shopping for the afternoon and left me alone with Dad.
Dad had plans to get his garden planted that afternoon and to keep me happy, he put me out on the terrace in my playpen.
But, after a while I got restless and started crying so Dad decided to let me out. Now I was free from the confines of the playpen, I seized the moment to crawl excitedly into my father’s newly planted garden.
As my father was hoeing and sowing I took great delight in eating dirt and pulling out some of the newly planted cabbages. This was too much for Dad to bear and after a while he had to hatch another plan.
We had a bantam hen called Clucky that I was afraid of. So, in desperation Dad placed me and Clucky together in my playpen.
The plan worked a treat for two hours until Mum came home. When Mum arrived home and saw me and Clucky together in the playpen, she was furious. Dad had some explaining to do.
Facing our fears
Forty years later, I had to face Clucky again. One of my greatest fears had been public speaking. I had suffered from anxiety attacks, and was worried about losing my train of thought in public and making a fool of myself.
I had been asked by our youth minister to give a talk at the 6pm church service in a month’s time.
I accepted, but to minimise the possibility of getting stage fright, I spent hours putting together a colourful PowerPoint presentation to distract the audience from looking at me.
Every word for my presentation was written out. I would be able to read from notes, minimising the chance of having a mind blank and making a fool of myself.
Despite getting little sleep the night before, and having butterflies in my stomach, the presentation went down well. I even found there were parts of the presentation I quite enjoyed.
However, I did feel that my talk was too controlled and there was little freedom to veer from my notes.
How I would have loved to be like other speakers. To be able to be spontaneous, more at ease and able to speak well off-the-cuff.
Over time, as I did more and more public speaking I gained confidence. Now I am able to free myself of the burden of writing out every word and can speak more off-the-cuff.
Today, when I tell people that I was once fearful of public speaking, they find it hard to believe. Some say, ‘You are such a natural’.
Now when I am asked to speak in front of an audience, instead of being fearful of it, I look forward to it.
Sometimes your greatest fear can be one of your greatest strengths.
Also, because I believe God is using me for His power and purposes, I know he is going before me. I can hand every presentation over to Him as I step up on the podium, in the knowledge that everything is for His glory.
I need not fear. With God, I can face any Clucky that comes along.
2 Timothy chapter 1, verse 7
“God did not give us a spirit of fear, but power, love and a sound mind.”
Wayne Graham worked in the media for more than 30 years before leaving to follow a call to set up The Daily Encourager, a values based media showcasing the best of New Zealand society. He has a passion for Jesus, enjoys walking, ball sports, the arts and song writing.