As a child, especially when he had to read aloud... he would memorize the pages assigned to him, so that the next day if his teacher asked him to read to the class, he’d be ready, not wanting to make a fool of himself, because of the embarrassment of any impromptu reading.
Later as an adult, while in seminary he began preaching and discovered that his sermon would not get off the ground. He stumbled around over his own thoughts. He was so afraid he just didn’t have what it would take to be a preacher... his lifetime dream.
Like polite folks, everyone noticed the hesitation and stammering but acted like they didn’t notice. But of course they did and were just being polite. However, behind closed doors the elders of his church said that if he wasn’t able to preach at the age 26 then he’d never be fit do so, so he was ¨encouraged¨ to pursue ¨one-on-one¨ Christian ministries instead. He had no idea what was going on... clueless.
The odd thing was that this young man did not struggle to communicate every time he spoke. Indeed, he was capable of being fluent in certain contexts. When by himself, speaking to a pet or to a group of children or speaking to a someone with whom he was comfortable with he spoke quite fluently.
So what did he do? Well, he never missed a single speech class, all of them focused on the idea that stammering was simply an inconvenient behavior. His teacher worked with the mechanics and behavior of stammering, separating mechanics entirely from what was going on inside, from how he was looking at the world.
It takes courage to come out of hiding, to allow others to be part of one’s process even when we trip over our own words or seize up all together. I wish I could understand what makes me different.
© Troubled Reflector 2007