Boldness in Breakthrough

A large portion of my freshman year of college was marked by a lot of loneliness and anxiety. In high school, I had friends, but I thought of myself as being self-sufficient and kind of closed myself off to experiencing authentic community and friendship. In the first months of my freshman year, I quickly found friends, which was such a huge answered prayer, but I found myself slipping into patterns of being anxious and isolating myself because these were ways I had known for so long. I spent a lot of time alone because I found myself wondering if I was ever annoying these people who I now spent most of my time with or what other things could come along to spoil my newly formed friendships.

My Freshley small group leaders were a big influence in my life that year and they did a great job at fostering community within our small group and really encouraged me to go to Jamaica for spring break. I had gotten to know a lot of the girls in my group pretty well, but I really didn’t know of too many other people who were going to St. Ann’s with me as our team prepared for our trip throughout the first part of that semester.

While in St. Ann’s, I slowly felt my heart being softened to being open with people and talking about things in my life that I wasn’t really open to before. While in St. Ann’s, we worked with a church in the area, and got to learn from their pastor and his wife, Wayne and Charlotte. One night they came to our base, and Charlotte spoke to our team about what it looked like to be a light for Christ. She spoke of how we can go from being a dim light, to a flickering light, to a bright light. Charlotte spoke passionately, and went in and out of different languages. At times I was honestly uncertain about whether she was speaking the Jamaican native language, Patois, or actually speaking in tongues.

She had us stand in different groups based on whether we thought we were a bright, flickering, or dim light. I didn’t feel confident enough to firmly say I was a bright or dim light, so I grouped myself as a flickering light. She began calling a few individuals out of the group and encouraging us through prophecy. This was one of my first encounters with prophecy, and I was intimidated with the idea that God could speak in this way through a Jamaican woman who didn’t know me and was a part of a culture that was so foreign to me. Charlotte called me out of the group of flickering lights and told me to make a fist and hit her chest and firmly say, “I am bold.” I did what she told me to do, and she told me to do it again with more force. She then told me to yell, “I am getting bolder!” and then, “I am the BOLDEST!” I felt a strange release of so much heaviness that I had held onto for so long from believing lies and allowing myself to become isolated from people.

Over the course of the rest of that week, I felt free to have real and vulnerable conversations with the people I was surrounded with and invite God into the hurt I had been experiencing. I definitely wasn’t a different person overnight, but I felt a transformation beginning to take place. Once I was back in Athens, I found myself jumping at opportunities that once intimidated me to spend time with people. It became easier for me to have conversations that exceeded the surface with new people. Over the past three years since that experience, I have developed a new confidence through Christ that has shaped me from being someone who was more reserved to someone who is unafraid to be a total goober while being able to still have the introspectiveness I gained from that difficult season, and I have continued to grow in boldness and my ability to speak out for what is true and right.

Author  |  Emma Kate Shelton

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