Afraid of public speaking?
I had to give a speech, and I was not looking forward to it.
It was my senior year, and I’d been asked to participate in our school’s yearbook queen pageant. It sounded like fun, so I agreed and worked on developing my talent and preparing an entertaining speech. That was when it hit me: Give a speech? In front of my peers? This felt very daunting!
It was hard to outrun all the fearful thoughts.
I continued to practice and prepare, but it was hard to outrun all the fearful thoughts. Finally, on the afternoon before the event, I was so nervous that my mom suggested I call a Christian Science practitioner for prayerful help. This wouldn’t be my first experience asking for a practitioner’s help when I had a problem, and because I’d had some wonderful healings in the past, I agreed. The practitioner told me she would pray for me, and she assured me that I was a beautiful child of God who already included all the qualities that I needed to perform well—grace, poise, and peace—and that I could trust this.
During the class dinner before the pageant, I couldn’t eat, and my friends kept asking me if I was OK. I was very quiet, trying to remember what the practitioner had shared with me and to listen only for God’s thoughts—good and peaceful thoughts. This passage from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures explains how I was praying: “Insist vehemently on the great fact which covers the whole ground, that God, Spirit, is all, and that there is none beside Him” (p. 421). I was doing my best to “insist vehemently” that I could hear those thoughts from God, which I knew would wipe out thoughts of fear and doubt. I knew that in the midst of God’s, Spirit’s, allness—all good—there was nothing to oppose Him.
The time came for me to go back onstage after all the other events had been completed, and I was so nervous I thought my heart was going to leap out of my chest. But then something amazing happened. The moment I stepped onstage to give my speech, the fear and nervousness completely evaporated. I gave the speech and even had fun with it. And much to my surprise, in the end I came in as runner-up for the pageant because of my overall performance.
The moment I stepped onstage to give my speech, all the fear and nervousness completely evaporated.
But this was the least of what this experience gave me. Little did I know that as my senior year went forward I was going to have to give speeches at several class events before graduation. Having already faced—and healed—the fear of public speaking, I was ready to meet the other speaking obligations with confidence and joy, totally leaning on God.
This healing not only gave me the ability to speak fearlessly in public but also taught me that I can turn to God for anything I need. And in the many years since then, I always have.