Around age 7 the speech impediment began. Mom and Dad could not figure out why and how this found it’s way into my life. Public reading became a burden, while personal communications carried it’s own style for survival.
Introductions were strenuous, answering questions worse, answering phone calls terrifying, and reading in public a disaster. Only with those I was comfortable with was I able to converse with.
No one knew my internal struggle except my parents. Adolescent shyness caused me to internalize the daily challenge to overcome. My soul felt like she was within an unbreakable globe of fear.
Third grade brought on challenges no student should face. My friend and I emotionally abused by a school teacher during recess encouraged the silence. He, placed in a garbage can and ridiculed while I was demanded to read outloud with the threat of no recess unless accomplished. Needless to say, recess time was silently detested by my friend and I. Rarely were we permitted to join the others.
Fourteen years old brought an end to shyness, but a compromise for speech was adopted. At home and at the public library, books for personal reading were a favorite past time. Words were a deep love. Every book reachable was picked up and read alone, yet to communicate I had to let go of the more complex words just to be able to verbalize a complete sentence. The day I chose to dumb down my learned dictionary of words was a sad day. But, it worked. The less complex the word, the better I could create a vocal pattern to speak. Yes, my bank of brilliant words was bankrupt for years.
Atmospheres where control was present were the worst for me. I’ll leave that statement there.
While in College mandatory speech classes were the death of me. Worse was finding out that an Education minor came with an eight week student teaching requirement. Yes, you are right. Minors were changed at the chagrin of my Professor, a beloved man who had followed my love for teaching since I was nine years old. He knew God’s call on my life. He begged me not to change minors. Petrified fear won for that moment, as I switched my minor to Counseling. My internal belief was, “Never would I stand before people to preach, for a class lecture, or otherwise.”
One day as I sat in one of our Counseling lectures, the President of the College came in to chat with the graduating class. Midway to the back I sat with no warning that he was about to ask me a question which I would need to publically respond to. I had no time to hide. Why would he even ask college graduates such a question (now I chuckle)?
“If you had the choice of being an animal which animal would you want to be?” No, no, no he did not just call me by name!! Oh yes he did!!! What a question.
What would be the easiest response?
How was I going to find my breath to begin the process of stuttering out the impossible “H” sound? No other letter would work. W, B, P, A … My mind raced looking for a substitute. At this point I just needed an animal sound to sputter out without the torturious 15 second stammering delay. None!
The “H” sound was needed to begin the word “horse.” “I would of chosen to be a wild hhhhhhhorse.” The lack of oxygen in those moments were suffocating. Heat overtook my body, as silence filled the classroom.
A few years later, I was asked to give the announcements for a church service followed by sharing my heart re:a specified topic. To get out of this assignment was IMPOSSIBLE. The Pastor of the church would not take no as an option. He said this was part of the job description. He won.
As I took my place behind the plexiglass podium, microphone gripped as if containing some kind of life line, I opened my mouth hoping for words. As I opened my mouth I felt something ‘other worldly’ come and rest on my shoulders. Something light yet heavy, something freeing yet with identity, something joyful and intentional. For the first time in fourteen years the rope which bound my ability to properly communicate was apprehended and removed. Holy Spirit was sent that day to deliver me, and to set my feet on a path to relearn communication and to embrace teaching. He introduced Himself so well.
When His Holy Spirit comes, there is the enabling force to speak. The mundane out of time words and teachings do not carry with them the power God intends.
A Horse. A creature representing a spirit of one who chooses to yield to the Will of The Creator. A carrier of a message. A creature fit for battle. A fearless beast. One who charges into the fray. A ride which leads champions into the impossible.