I have always been a very talkative little girl and loved using a microphone; however, along with the joy it brought, it also came with a pit in the very bottom of my stomach. But one youth Sunday in my little church with a small congregation and an even smaller youth population is where I found my voice and lost the pit in my stomach that came with it. Before this youth Sunday, I used to stand on the stage at my church and ramble and sing and talk into the microphone with my best friend, Audrey. We would go before and stay after everyone arrived and left for church so nobody would hear us or come in and watch us. But the day of youth Sunday, a day where the youth in my church lead the service from beginning to end with the help of youth leaders, was soon approaching and I was told I would have to speak the most because the others simply didn't want to. Going into youth Sunday I was really worried that I would mess up and the whole congregation, the other youth, my friends, and my family would make fun of me. But I knew this event was important to my family, specifically on my mom’s side, to my Grandma, Woo-woo, who took my mother there her whole life, to my mom who grew up with the people who would be listening to me, and to my aunt who loves us enough that she would go anywhere for us. I was nervous but excited that I would get to read my favorite poem we read on youth Sunday: “Balloons Belong in the Church” by Ann Weems. It is my favorite poem because it points out how everybody is loved and all characteristics can be looked at in a good way, even the bad ones. So, I started, with a shaky voice. I read, “I took to church with me one morning a happy four-year-old boy holding a bright blue string to which was attached his much loved orange balloon with pink stripes…” I started and it was filled with very awkward pauses and very stiff words; I was uncomfortable and very fidgety but then, I stumbled over my words and realized that nobody cares if you mess up because it really is… not a problem… because they are so proud that you got up and that you had the courage to mess up. I continued reading and when we were done we blew up balloons and let them out with our sins. I realized that once you let go of your fears you’ll break out of your shell and maybe even find a new passion. Public speaking is a passion of mine because I feel heard and like I can do good in the world and to the people around me. Now on youth Sundays, I am the first to get up on the stage and start reading my favorite poem where the little boys says, “We don’t bring balloons to church” and then that little four-year-old boy with a little tremble asked, “Why aren’t balloons allowed in church? I thought God would like balloons.” And then Ann in church celebrates everybody just like God does. So, reading this sermon has given me the courage to now speak in front of anybody I want and everybody. I continue to love public speaking and jump at almost every opportunity to talk in front of a crowd, sing karaoke with my friends, or make a dance routine at a sleepover to show off. Of course, a microphone in hand always helps.
© Mia Esworthy. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.