A day I will never forget, I was a fifth grader in Okeechobee, Florida, it was Monday, and this could have been just like every other Monday, but it wasn’t, this one was special. First of all, I had been sick the previous Friday, so I was anxious to see all my friends and teachers again, okay, maybe not so much the teachers but definitely Rebekah Roberts, the prettiest girl I had ever seen in my life, outside my first grade teacher and Samantha Micelli on Who’s the Boss.
Even at that young age, I somehow knew I wanted to so something that would change the world, to make people’s lives better. But I was struggling to know what that would look like. I had been told for years that I was a leader, though never receiving a satisfactory answer as to what that meant. I was simply told, “you have leadership qualities…be a leader.” Until that fateful Monday, I knew something was stirring in my heart – but no idea how to turn that inner passion into a usable commodity to make the world better. I thought people just expected me to be a leader, I mean I came from a good Christian home. My mom was a teacher in the Christian school connected to the church where my father was the pastor. Though I hoped to make a difference, the encouragement that I received were from adults who I assumed did not know me, the real me…the insecure, self-questioning me. I thought they said kind things to me, due to my last name, had they known “me” I thought, they would not say such kind things.
This passion to make a difference was tempered with the fact that I had a low self-esteem. I was constantly questioning who I was and measuring myself against those of my peers, and finding myself lacking. I was afraid to share my dream with others, cause thought I knew adults would try and cheer my dream on, my peers may not be so helpful. I had also confused my dream with a specific profession. Knowing that I wanted to make a significant difference in the world, I was exploring the only path that I knew at that time to do that, I would be a preacher, I mean my dad is making a difference, maybe I could. I remember my first sermon at the age of 5, living in South Carolina at the time, I grabbed all my toys, including my baby sister at the time, grabbed my Bible and started preaching. This must be what I am called to do, this attitude continued with me into that fateful day in forth grade.
The day started like another until I walked into our small classroom and saw everyone huddled in the corner discussing something intently. I quickly scanned the room for Rebekah; noticing her on the other side of the ad hock committee meeting, I put my bag down and made my way to stand next to hear. Quickly I learned what all the commotion was all about, a fight. While I was out sick, something happened on our playground that had never happened to us before, a small fight. At this point in our young lives, fights were the stories of legend that only happened at “public” schools. Each person, not waiting for the person before to finish, were recounting the strange happenings of the day. At some point, Dale in the group recognized that I had decided to reengage the education experience known as forth grade and said words that forever changed the way I saw myself and the world I knew. His words awoke within my that passion to make a difference, to make the world a better place. Dale, pointing right at me said, “Feather, we wish you would have been here…this never would have happened.”
Those words penetrated my cautious and timid heart. At first, I was not sure what he meant, but that changed in the instant that all my friends joined into the conversation by adding, “Yeah, you never would have let it get that far.” “You would have stepped in and stopped it before Eric hit em.” “We listen to what you say.” In that instant, the world as I knew it changed. That night as I fell asleep I remember thinking, maybe I really can make a difference, maybe this desire to make a difference is a God-thing and not simply a desire to be known and considered a hero. Maybe my dream is from God. My dream which lay doormat, not for a lack of passion, but a keen sense of unassuradeness was awakened. My cadre of school mates were used by God to have my dream emerge and become to powerful to simply push down due to my self-consciousness. I learned that day, that if I did not bring all of me to play into my world, there would be consequences not only for me, but for those around me as well.
Each of us needs to be awakened to what God has planted in us. We can not allow fear, in its various forms, to keep us from knowing, being, and doing what God created us to be and do. God created me to lead, to be a leader of character that uses who I am to awake, equip, and connect others to their God-given dream and passion. To some, this may seem arrogant – to me arrogance would come in not tenaciously pursuing this passion with all that I am. This dream, it is not my dream, but God’s dream planted in me.