I Blog For Books

19 January 2009

And Now, I Speak

How many of us have a memory that we'd rather forget? Something that we did or said (or both) that just seems to linger there in the back of our mind, bursting forth at what seems to be the most inopportune time? (written 8 July 07)

If you were to tell me that I had to give a speech to a group of people, my probable response would be "Okay. When?" and "What do I have to talk about?" Fifteen years ago, I would have found any excuse in the world to avoid speaking to a group of people if I was the "featured" speaker. To go even further, I attended meetings or large gatherings only if I had to, and rarely spoke unless spoken to. Now, before you think that I'm some quiet type ... my family can attest to the fact that I am not! Around people I know and am comfortable with, I can (and do!) talk a blue streak! My elementary school report cards are littered with the phrase "talks too much" in the conduct section! I just never felt comfortable in groups of strangers, and as a result, tended to keep to myself whenever possible. Why?

In high school, I was a member of the Key Club. I was one of the elected officers of our school chapter, and attended a regional meeting in Troy. The president and vice-president couldn't go to this particular meeting, so I was the only officer present from our chapter. Imagine my surprise when the state president started asking for chapter reports! The attending officers (mostly prez and vp) from each school stood up in front of the group and gave a brief summary of what their chapters had done, and had planned for the rest of the year. When called upon, I stood ... and froze. More than twenty-five years have passed since that day, and the humiliation is still fresh in my mind. What words of wisdom did I share with my fellow clubbers from around the state? Oh yes, I still remember!! "Ummm, they didn't tell me I had to give a report." And I sat down. My mind was a complete blank. I could no more have told you what our club had done than fly to the moon.

What changed that? A program called AFTB. In the summer of 1994, we were living in Enterprise and the kids and I spent a lot of time at Fort Rucker. Their dad was in Korea, and we met with other "waiting" families fairly regularly. At one of our meetings, we were blessed with a speaker named Diane Edwards. Diane was an army spouse just like we were, but she was also a trainer in this new program that the Army was developing. It was called Army Family Team Building, and was a series of classes designed for spouses and family members as an adjustment tool to the military way of life. These classes were taught by spouses, and they were looking for instructors. They would even train you! To make a long story short, the seed that began as "I think I could do that" turned into my volunteer career as an instructor, master trainer, and core volunteer instructor (I taught classes on the local level, trained instructors locally, and travelled nationwide to train instructors). No longer terrified to stand and speak, my groups have ranged from less than ten to more than 400.

To what or whom do I owe this lack of fear? God. Even though I rarely spoke of it to anyone, I prayed before every class I taught, or lecture that I gave. From the humiliation that still sometimes seems as if it were yesterday grew something that I love to do ... every job that I have had since that time has dealt, in some way or other, with the public. Guess what? I still pray, and frequently!! The difference? Now I don't hesitate to tell people that simple fact. Prayer works for me, and it can for you, too! Try it today!

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."~Philippians 3:13-14 NIV

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