Little Giants, Going Down!

After an hour of sorting through the overstuffed iPhoto folders clogging my computer, I accomplished some necessary deletion and some happy recollection of the wonderful places and people I’ve seen in the past year. And I will admit it freely— if I found a picture where my actual weight and/or age were undeniably obvious, I hit delete. If you were standing next to me and looked fabulous, I’m very sorry.

As the year draws to a close, it’s good to spend some time taking inward inventory, reflecting on goals attained and accomplishments that should be celebrated. Today as I perused a year’s worth of pictures, what took shape for me was a list of things you probably wouldn’t have guessed I’ve battled this year. Since I am a musician, a teacher, and a writer, you might assume I do these things with complete ease. Not so. I call them Little Giants, and I am naming them because I want to acknowledge that God has continued his work in my life this year, helping me win some small but significant victories over various forms of fear.

1. Singing Harmony.

Although I’ve been singing and playing guitar since I was in 6th grade, I was never a choir kid. God did not gift me, as he has my daughter and husband, with the ability to improvise complex harmonies on the spot. Oh, I can learn to sing the alto part, and once I have it memorized you might not suspect I am a harmony impostor, but inside I am keenly aware that I am one false note away from having this musical deficit exposed. This year I stood on a stage with a microphone and about a thousand people watching and had to improvise a harmony. No one threw tomatoes. No one demonstrably held their hands over their ears. I’m calling it a small victory.One little giant down.

2. Driving the California Freeways.

I grew up in New Jersey, where you could easily drive the entire length of the Garden State Parkway in the far right lane. This fall, in order to lead worship at a women’s Bible study in North County, I had to conquer the harrowing—for me, although probably not for you—drive north during rush hour. It was a weekly one and a half hours of heart-squeezing, lane-changing tension, as I was sandwiched between semis, and propelled by the prevailing traffic speed of Mach 1. Honestly, each week I had trouble sleeping the night before—echoes of a panic attack I once had while driving that continues to haunt me. To get through it, I put some soothing Fernando Ortega in the CD player, and called out to God with tears and groanings too deep for words. Jeff prayed me through it. I survived, and I’m still singing, and while you may consider me a wimp and a nut case, I am going to count this as a win over another little giant.

3. Public Speaking.

This is famously everyone’s biggest fear, but you probably think people who talk for a living like teachers don’t have it. I do. I’m a Toastmaster’s dropout. This year, however, I got on an airplane by myself (which by itself used to terrify me, but overcoming that fear is a story for another day) and went to lead a retreat for a group of strangers in the heart of Beth Moore country. I was intimidated. For starters, I knew for certain I didn’t have the right hair! But friends prayed for me, and the Holy Spirit showed up, and now I have 60 new friends, and the fresh and beautiful experience of seeing God come through when I gave him my five little loaves and two fish. Giant of inadequacy? Down!

4. Writing.

What? I’ve taught high school and college English, and I needed to learn to write? Yup. I joined a critique group for the first time this year and discovered some unpleasant truths about my own academic wordiness and lack of focus. Is it hard to come home with a piece you’ve written where your critiquers have expended as much ink on the corrections as you have on the text? Yup. But now that I’ve experienced the process, and see how much improvement is possible when you have generous friends willing to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thin skin? One more little giant, out for the count.

How about you? —Are you up for a dual challenge? Sit down and review your year, and while you are at it, delete some of those thousands of subpar photos trapped on your hard drive. In the process, identify the little giants you’ve taken down this year. God will get the glory when you tell us your story.