Scared and Sacred and Getting Over Ourselves / GUEST POST


I was reminded today that scared and sacred are almost the same word…and often the same experience. I asked my genius-girl, “Did you hate today?”


“Was today hard?”


She makes eye contact. We see glass-clear reflections of ourselves.

I’m so glad she didn’t hate this scared, sacred day. We broke it down today. The elements of speaking, communicating, why God gave us words and voices. And specific circumstances where talking is necessary. We both have much going on in our brains. And we both only let out a fraction of it.

I told my brilliant, beautiful girl I had some hidden years. I call them junior high. Who knew all those hidden days would be so relevant? Who knew I would draw from them often and reference that time again, again. A sort of testimony. Bulbs under snow. The frozen ground, the not wanting to become…was part of the becoming. Those hidden years? They weren’t about me. They were bigger than me.

Through the years, students have told me that their goal of fill-in-the-blank was too hard. Too hard? So I hold out my sweat-drenched shaky icicle hands for them to see. I show them stains of sweat. I line up the pill bottles in a neat little row.

“Even you?” They ask. “Why?”

“Because speaking to you and teaching you is a worthwhile, purposeful thing. And it makes me nervous.”

I made the confidence of so many girls my mission. Now they write me to say they are studying abroad, they are running marathons, they are working for dream companies, they are making new friends, they are stepping outside their own boxes. They are doing a hundred things I’m still too afraid to do.

So when I hear a girl make noises in that squeaky, I’m-too-afraid-to-breathe-because-I-don’t-know-if-I-deserve-air kind of way…that voice scrapes my heart. I will fight for you against that hesitation and inferiority. I will push. But I will not push in a way that breaks you and makes you want to crumple to the floor in a heap. I’m proof of plenty of tactics that didn’t quite work.

In college, an education professor made me yell as loud as I could and told me to practice my teacher voice while I was driving in my car. I hope I busted his dear little eardrum. After class, I rolled my eyes. I guess he didn’t know I led basketball cheers, sang solos, performed on stages, blared, resounded, boomed. You know, in the name of theatre.

But he did know, he must have known that some deep part of me still did not believe I had any merit. I did not believe in everyday, daily-life me. “You apologize too much,” he said. “Why are you always apologizing?”

I caught myself apologizing a few days ago. I was positively peer-pressured into posing for the flower shop’s sister company clothing store photo shoot.

“But I’m pasty winter-white! My hair will be messy unless it’s professionally smoothed and straightened! I have an underbite and don’t smile right! My cheeks still have babyfat! My triceps are flabby! I have no boobs and a rear that is too bootylicious for pattered skinny jeans! My sister’s an actual model…let’s wait until next month when she visits over spring break and she will rock these outfits! I’m out of the habit of wearing foundation!”

(Side note: Life feels more about survival than sparkle and gloss here in the tundra, more functional than feminine. The husband prefers au natural and I have zero people to compete with/compare myself to because the tundra is not located in Edwards County. So that’s what I mean when I say Girl is plumb out of the habit).

I mentally continued on my self-destructive rampage, “I never learned proper eye shadow application! My nail polish is always chipped! I’m bad at being a girl! I’m only 5’4”! Out of a hundred senior picture poses, I only have one photo that wasn’t awkward! I’m like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights who doesn’t know what to do with his hands!”

Then I realized it’s not about me. It was about letting the customers see how the clothes fit. And about helping the company. And that’s bigger than my hang-ups and hitches. And why was I apologizing for natural in the first place?

Let’s stop apologizing, shall we?

For who we are, for what we do, for what we look like when we don't try or we do try, for being women, for having voices, for having thoughts, for having opinions.

Stop being scared little birds.

I think God wants us to get over ourselves.

Because the scared experiences are also the sacred ones.

Melissa Knackmuhs Kiefer attended the University of Evansville and taught at Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville, IN. She currently lives in northwestern IL with her husband, Josh--the man who's been by her side for eleven years, and her sweet black Labrador named Jovie. Melissa is enjoying her new jobs as a florist, bridal consultant, and English tutor and is looking forward to starting her MFA in creative nonfiction writing this summer. She blogs about life's grit and grace at On Bruised Knees.


  1. I loved reading this post. I definitely apologize too much, and this was just the reminder I needed. Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! <3

  2. This was a great post! "Stop being scared little birds." What a great reminder. Thanks for sharing.

    1. :) I loved *your* post. Thanks for reading/commenting. Your baby bump is beautiful. Congrats and Blessings.

  3. "Then I realized it’s not about me." <-- Isn't that so often the realization that we need. Great great post!! And how neat, my sister went to UofE, too. She's a special ed teacher now. :)


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