Fears can be unrealized dreams. At times, unrealized dreams are deep soul desires waiting for expression. When we wake up to this understanding, we can step toward freedom.
Is it possible that my fear of public speaking could be one of my deepest desires?
Public speaking was my nemesis. I had opportunities to speak, but when asked to give a thirty-minute talk in my area of expertise, I found myself terrified.
I remember the time, many years ago, when I owned an advertising business. Each year we celebrated our advertisers at a client appreciation dinner. As the Publisher, I was expected to express a few encouraging words and introduce the keynote speaker. Leading up to that moment was always extremely painful.
- Pounding heart
- Sweaty hands
- Light-headed feeling
- Creeping anxiety
Fast forward to today and much has changed. I have written my first book and become a published author. I have been given opportunities to speak and I have accepted.
But when I first entertained the notion of speaking, it made my stomach turn. I can remember my friend Carol talking to me about all the speaking I would be doing because of my newly published book. I sidestepped the conversation and said, “Yes, I guess so, but I am not really that thrilled about speaking in front of others.”
She could not understand why I would say such a thing. “What? How are you going to be a published author and not talk with people about the work you’ve done?”
I began to reflect upon my fear of public speaking and what was underneath the discomfort. What I realized was this—I had created a story in my head and had vain imaginations (sin) about how I would present, how the audience would respond, and the mistakes I would make.
Then I turned to God’s Word. I read the truth of what He says about me and what I know to be true—my thoughts are just my thoughts. They come and go. They can help me or hurt me. I get to oversee my thinking. God tells me in his Word to think on what is true, lovely, and pure. “Take every thought captive…” Crush it. Stomp on it. Submit it to Christ. This is the pathway to life and freedom.
Last May, I accepted my first official speaking engagement—a mother/daughter tea. When the event planner contacted me, I was honestly flattered, excited, and scared to death. A myriad of thoughts rushed through my head.
- Did I just say yes?
- What will I say to these women?
- Will I forget everything I know and sound like a robot reading my notes?
- What will they think of me? I want to do a good job and sound professional.
- What if I sound boring and my voice trembles and they figure out I’m a newbie at this?
I hated the feelings this fear evoked inside of me.
However, here is what I came to understand—I needed to get over me. If this is what God called me to, then it was my job to obey and walk by faith in Him. I knew it would require new ways of being as I worked on becoming an outstanding speaker. I would have to be very comfortable with vulnerability, awkward feelings, and a willingness to make mistakes.
The morning of Saturday, May 7th arrived. My dress was pressed and ready to slip on; my high heels were comfortable, jewelry was simple and classic, notes were in hand, and I found myself excited to share the message.
I had decided ahead of time that I would be me and the Lord confirmed it as I sat with him that morning. “Lord, I am yours. This is all for you.“
He then spoke these words to my heart, “Patti just be you—because I live in you, all will be well.”
Stepping onto the stage to deliver a well-prepared message felt good. I picked up the microphone with my heart pounding, opened my notes, and began to tell a personal story.
On that day I began a new journey. By God’s grace, I chose to step into fear. I moved toward the uncomfortableness, not away from it. I knew in my heart this fear was an unspoken desire to make a difference in people’s lives with all that God had given me. And He blessed the presentation. He turned my fear into renewed faith as I obediently walked through an open door.
He can do that for you, too.
“…the God who started this great work in you [will] keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears” (Philippians 1:6 MSG).
Question: In your speaking or writing ministry, what is the main thing that frightened you in the past? How did you move forward?