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Now I can speak clearly
FROM THE TIME I was in grade school, I had a very severe case of stammering. My parents enrolled me with a speech therapist, and I went on a regular basis to take speech therapy from her. After about or two, the therapy was not resulting in any progress, and we discontinued it, although the stammering remained.
During high school, my stammering very much restricted my participation in class discussions. It limited, if not completely wiped out, any social life, because whenever I was in any situation that made me tense or nervous, the stammering would start up.
The condition was just as bad when I entered college. But the good news is that early in my freshman year, I met a fellow student, who later became my wife, and she was a student of Christian Science. A lot of our dates included long discussions about the teachings of Christian Science.
On idea that came out in our discussions, and which particularly struck me, was how Christian Science explains that man—and I'm speaking about both men and women—is actually spiritual. That was a totally new concept to me. Christian Science showed me that my identity as God created it had no limitations. For the first time, I saw that all the worthwhile qualities in my life—intelligence, love, tenderness, gentleness—were from God. And I saw that anything keeping me from expressing those good qualities, such as the stammering, was not really part of me. That wonderful distinction that Christian Science makes between God's creation and the limited, material view of creation was really a window into a new way for me to think about life. And as I began to get a clearer concept of who I was—the child of God—I began to see that this pointed out the path to overcoming the stammering. Now, doing so was a gradual process, but the stammering did begin to lessen as I better understood this spiritual existence.
In fact, the first job that I had after my wife and I were married (we were still in college) was as a host at a visitor information center for Colonial Williamsburg, a major historic attraction in Virginia. I was meeting the public all day long, responding to their questions, and selling them tickets to see the town, and I really enjoyed the job. But there were still instances when fear would take over, and then the stammering would start up. I began to see that stammering would begin when I became afraid of something. When I was speaking with very close friends, or with family, it wasn't as much of a problem. So I began to see that what I really needed to conquer was being afraid. I'd like to share a verse in the Bible that really meant a whole lot to me then, from Isaiah: "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness" (41:10). That was such a beautiful assurance to me that if I could get rid of the fear, the stammering could not remain.
If you'd told me that I was going to be speaking on radio, I'd have said, "No way! I could never do that." It feels wonderful to have this freedom.
The more I confronted fear, the more I could speak freely. What really helped finalize the healing was being elected to conduct services at my church. Then I knew it was the time to get rid of this impediment once and for all. If you're going to conduct church services, then you're going to be proclaiming the Word of God. And that was such a wonderful assurance to me, because it removed any feeling of false responsibility, any pressure or fear. In Mary Baker Eddy's book Science and Health, I found a wonderful passage that I just lived with: "The intercommunication is always from God to His idea, man" (p. 284). To me this was such a beau tiful promise that I wasn't going to be personally responsible for proclaiming God's Word. That God was speaking to me, and He was speaking to each member of the congregation, during each church service. That concept brought me freedom. And throughout the years that I conducted those services, there just was no stammering.
Once that job was behind me, the stammering was really behind me as well. And to this day I can speak freely. I love to answer the phone. I don't have any problems speaking in public. If you'd told me during those years—even back when I was in my 20's—that I was going to be speaking on radio, I'd have said, "No way! You've got to be kidding. I could never do that." And now I'm doing it. It feels wonderful to have this freedom.
This account originally aired on Sentinel Radio.
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