“Do not be afraid. Do not be silent. Keep on speaking.” Acts 18:9

Some people are comfortable with public speaking. Some people are comfortable raising their beliefs in the face of injustice or topics with high stakes. Some people come by this naturally. Others must work through anxiety and fear to even think about doing these things. I fall into the this category. As a tried and true introvert, it is not unusual to believe that I tend to be reserved in most situations. I am not often a person who will offer up my own thoughts in discussions.

As a generally soft spoken person, I rarely raise my voice in everyday life. When I speak in front of a group of people, I have to be more intentional with the volume of my voice. This was no different, if not more apparent, the first summer I worked at camp. I constantly struggled with self-doubt that made it extremely difficult to think about leading in front of my peers, let alone campers.

They say comparison is the thief of joy; I would also offer that it is the thief of growth. As I watched others lead and put themselves out there, I never thought I’d be able to do that, not at camp, not ever. Yet, I did. The community I was surrounded with lifted me up and supported me through the doubts I had at the time and still have on occasion today. They were not silent in their support. They constantly encouraged me to speak up, to let myself be heard. When we stop comparing ourselves to others and act, we not only gain opportunities to grow through experiences outside of our comfort zone, but also find joy in the journey.

There are people in our lives, our state, our country, and our world who are facing struggles of varying degrees. There are people who cannot fight for what they believe in because of cultural norms and governing laws. We are called to keep on speaking, to fight the silence and fear that seems evermore present and natural in our society. We are to be a part of the community that fights for what we believe in, even when afraid. It is a scary time for many we know and many we don’t. In the face of the unknown and a generally dissonant society, we must not be silent. We must speak on fearlessly.

Amanda Randall, VLM Summer Staff 2016, 2017