Elizabeth gave a talk in church today.
She was asked if she would be willing last Wednesday during church activities. She said yes, but apparently she seemed nervous about it. As a matter of fact I didn't know anything about it until after we got home. Then the panic started. Then the tears started. Lots of tears.
Of our six children there is only one that I could say is truly shy and it is actually not Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a gentle soul. She is reserved and observant. She does not like anything sudden. She is patient with the world and expects the world to be patient with her. She likes to study things out thoroughly before she makes an attempt. She didn't start walking until she was 14 months old. She didn't really talk until after she was two, but when she started there wasn't any baby talk. She is a classic introvert.
We had already made plans for Thursday that would take most if not all of the day. It was Friday before we could work on that talk. It was not going well. I tried to show her how to look up scriptures. How to research the topic (How Temple and Family History Work Can Help Us Do Missionary Work). There was a lot of resistance. A lot of frustration. A few more tears. It occurred to me that something was bothering her that was not being said. Most people are anxious about public speaking. It is quite normal. Her oldest sister is very outgoing, but she is terrified of being in front of a crowd. I am one of the weird people that actually likes speaking in front of people. Even with all the practice I've had I still am a bundle of nerves up until the moment I open my mouth. It came as a great surprise to me when she finally blurted out that the delivery of the talk was not what she was most anxious about. It was writing the talk. She not only felt like she didn't know how but that it was impossible for her to accomplish. We made a few more attempts and then decided to take a break. We both ended up taking a very long nap. That nap seemed to cure a lot of ills. Our next attempts to put together a talk were much more successful.
Just a couple of months after Elizabeth turned 2, her sister joined our family. Elizabeth was so very excited about her baby sister. She had not really talked much until after Sarah was born. I guess she just didn't have anything to say. She certainly had plenty to say about her baby sister. After about six weeks of life with a new baby some of the enchantment wore off. There was one afternoon she was just plain cranky. Nothing was right. I told her that as soon as I got baby sister down for a nap we could do something together.
"NOOOOO!!! I don't want anymore baby sister! Take her away!" Elizabeth wailed.
I managed to get the baby asleep and then I held my toddler and rocked in our chair. She fell into a much needed nap. That nap cured a lot of ills that day. Everything was sunshine after that.
These experiences, along with many others, have taught me that things are not always as they appear. In both of these instances my sweet Elizabeth was acting difficult and emotional when all that was really needed was a nap. She seemed to be worried about giving a talk when the real issue was a lack of confidence in her writing ability. It is not any different from any of us. It is not always easy to look with love at unpleasant behavior. It is important to try. We all have moments when we are not our best. Sometimes we may not even understand what is truly bothering us. How wonderful it is when we receive patience and understanding at those moments. How much better it is to remember to react with love. The solution may be a simple as a good nap.