Moment of Vunerability

I posted this on my facebook over a year ago and wanted to expand on it a bit. With the comments and love I received, I was blown away by the impact. Here’s the original post:
“From the age of 7, I’ve always stuttered when I spoke. The years of speech therapy classes helped some but the studdering never went away. Tonight, I had the pleasure to be asked to speak in front of almost 300 people at a local church. As I sat on the panel of ministers and well-known community leaders, I began to feel the pressure after getting introduced. As I walked up to speak, I said a quick prayer and asked God to speak through me. After giving my speech, I could see and hear the audience clapping and standing. As I returned back to my seat to sit down, I felt a release of emotions.”

At that moment it took me back to situations through my life where I stayed away from the spotlight. I’ve always chosen not to speak up for myself due to having the stuttering issue. I’ve missed out on opportunities in the classroom when I knew the answer to a question or problem.

When someone has a studdering issue, in my opinion, speech therapist only target the studdering issue. In my case, I had some good speech therapists from the first grade until my graduation from high school. They never really asked me how I was doing just focused on the problem. Let me break it down a little more to get the bigger picture.  Imagine, you are sitting in your first-grade class and the class is interrupted by the intercom calling you to report to the main office.  All your classmates think you are and trouble and goes OOOOOOOO!!!  You are taken to another classroom for the classroom for about forty-five minutes or so talking to a speech therapist. Once you return to your class, all of your classmates have questions. Did you go to the principal’s office? Did you have to take some medicine? Are you in trouble?  It’s an embarrassment, to tell the truth about where you were, so you revert to lying about where you went. I became so good at lying about my whereabouts. The truth, in this case, would cause harm, more questions, and humiliation. Kids are ruthless once they find out you are different than they are.

I have dealt with the issue for thirty plus years but it has helped changed me in many positive ways. I have met some people who have healed me overcome obstacles. My college RA really helped me conquer the fear of speaking in front of others because he stuttered too. I saw him lead by example by controlling the hall meetings and showed his leadership on campus. We had numerous conversations my freshmen year and he encouraged me to apply to be an RA my sophomore year. During my time in college, I was unable to tell anyone where my hometown was because it was difficult to say words that started with the letter “G”. Saying Goldsboro was so hard to say so I resulted to saying Fayetteville was my hometown because it was easier to say. College actually helped because it put me in uncomfortable positions to use my voice. I never let my stuttering issue hold me back from becoming an RA, pledging with Phi Beta Sigma, or becoming a supervisor. I have to thank my grandmothers too because they had a listening ear whenever I talked with them.

I always wondered how Moses was able to have a speak to Pharaoh. And it came to me God will use you for his glory and speak to you. In the last three years, I’ve spoken to Fortune 500 companies, county governments, lead presentations and the list keeps growing.

I want to help others understand the disorder. So here’s the definition of studdering from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:  A disorder is characterized by disruptions in the production of speech sounds, also called “disfluencies.” Most people produce brief disfluencies from time to time. For instance, some words are repeated and others are preceded by “um” or “uh.

Stuttering may look like an easy problem that can be solved with some simple advice, but for many people, it can be a chronic life-long disorder. Here are some ways that people can help those who have speech impediments such as stuttering:

1. Don’t make remarks like: “Slow down,” “Take a breath,” or “Relax.” Such simplistic advice can be felt as demeaning and is not helpful.

2. Let the person know by your manner that you are listening to what he or she says — not how they say it.

3. Maintain natural eye contact and wait patiently and naturally until the person is finished.

4. You may be tempted to finish sentences or fill in words. Try not to do so.

5. Be aware that those who stutter usually have more trouble controlling their speech on the telephone. Please be patient in this situation. If you pick up the phone and hear nothing, be sure it is not a person who stutters trying to start the conversation before you hang up.

6. Speak in an unhurried way — but not so slowly as to sound unnatural. This promotes good communication with everyone.

Words of Wisdom:

God will use your story for his glory. Never let any disorder stop you from pursuing your destiny 🙌🏾 #Grateful

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