On Freaking Out About Public Speaking

wrong-career-path3As I prepare to speak this Sunday, my nerves are running high. Again. Searching for reassurance and peace, I remember how God granted these elusive fruits three years ago, the first time I stood in front of the congregation for thirty soul-exposing minutes. This morning I am finding new peace as I remember what God did. 

Divinely, the topic of that first sermon was the beautiful hymn Be Thou My Vision. As I stepped off the stage, I had a choice to embrace those lyrics of truth or not.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise

Thou mine inheritance now and always…

I came home and began to unravel.  In a moment of desperation I remember clearly, crying into the porch couch cushions. My soul almost suffocated from vulnerability, almost bled out with desperate cries for acceptance. The empty praise of man could never fill a hole this large. Surely God had something to say that would bind me up before I stopped breathing. 

He did.

I had been writing to God in a peculiar way: by writing a series of letters. Letters to Joy.

{The first letter went like so:

          Dear Joy,

                  Where are you?

                   Sincerely,

                   Rachel }

And that afternoon, as I wrote to Joy, He answered.

Dear Joy,

As the nerves lessened a bit toward the end of the message, I did feel you. I know you were there, right with me. And I know the angels were there. I suppose you hang out with the angels a lot, don’t you? Buddy-buddy-ish.

Then the accusations came at about 3pm. They came fast and hard and bout leveled me. But of course they are from the pit. Comparison was shouting at me, matching me against myself, my best version of what I could have done. Against others, tinting my journey as insignificant, not worth sharing, silly. I felt foolish. Exposed. Lame.

But it’s so true, what Mr. Roosevelt said, that comparison steals you right away. It did for a little while, as long as I let it. Then I took a walk outside (while seven-year-old Cas was inside drinking water from the old fish tank, the air tube for his straw) and the webs cleared enough to hear the Father’s voice:

“You’re in the right place, Rachel. You’re just where I want you to be.”

And that was that. I believed Him.  And you came back! He blew away the comparison with one sentence and there was room for you again. Thank you. Thank you for bringing a calmness that I haven’t known in a while – a sense of completeness. A knowing that right here, where I am, is just right, and I can be with you here, and trust God to keep moving me forward as I say yes. Yes to You, God.

Yes, when the stomach turns.

Yes, when the No would keep me in bed.

Yes, when the I Can’t would keep me down.

Yes, when the dark is closing in.

Yes when I am afraid.

Because the Yes always puts me right where God wants me to be, and as Corrie ten Boom said, the center of His will is our only safety.

I am completely enamored by the fact that you are not threatened by sadness, by the way. You don’t see yourself opposed to her, do you? Because you know. You know seasons and times and you come along after grief and sweep up the pieces and use them to start creating something even more beautiful than I could ever imagine.

{Creating. “Let’s CREATE SOMETHING!” Cas yelled today. That was a big ‘ole invitation for you, wasn’t it? What Joy Father must feel when He creates! Yes, let’s forget what other people think and create something. Let’s be brave enough to do it again and return to joy.}

I hear what you are saying:

There is a joy found on the other side of saying Yes that you can’t comprehend on this side. The Yes creates a new space within you that I, joy, am waiting to move into. You will be tempted to furnish the space with your own stuff, but hold off. You can choose to give me room. As much room as you give me, I will fill it!  

                                                                   With a trembling hand,

                                 Yes.

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