Sunday, July 31, 2011

Treading Water {aka Speaking in Church}

It seems like there are times in life when you are just thrown in and then some how expected to keep treading water while being scared to death.  Today was one of those days.

I had to speak in church.  Normally, not a big deal for me.  In fact the last time I spoke in church, I begged.  Seriously.  I kept begging and pleading until the Bishopric finally agreed to let me be the youth speaker.  The reason I wanted to speak so desperately badly was because Casey was going on his "mission tour" around the stake and would be speaking in my ward.  We were just barely dating at this point and I wanted to sit by him.  The only way that could happen was if I spoke too.

Plus, I like talking.  I don't mind being in front of others.  Shoot, I'm a teacher.  Speaking church is merely teaching people about an assigned topic.

So why was I so terrified?  Well, for starters I had to speak for 20 minutes.  That is a SUPER long time--especially considering that I have only spoke in church for 3-5 minutes before and even that was not very often.  Next, the Bishopric asked me to speak.  Just me.  I had to sit on the stand by myself.  Part of the reason one gets married is so they always have a companion.  I thought he would always be my church speaking companion too but apparently not.  Plus, I am in a ward that doesn't know me.  We just moved in 1 month ago.  Whatever I said, everyone would remember me by.  This talk was going to be a lasting first impression for the other ward members.  And I was asked as part of my talk to introduce us.  What could I say that would show who we are and make us stand out from all the other newlywed couples that just moved too.  Finally, I was assigned a topic out of Preach My Gospel.  I never served a mission.  I don't know PMG!  Not to mention, the topic was very short and reading it would have lasted a grand total of two minutes--only if I took long pauses after each period.

Before we went camping, I printed off several articles on "Going About Doing Good," packed my conference Ensign, my scriptures and blank paper.  I ended up preparing my talk sitting on the banks of a lake while Casey was fishing.  Today while I was sitting on the stand, I looked over at the other two speakers and they each had beautiful typed out talks.  I had my slightly wrinkled, folded in half, scribbled, hand written outline.  It was the best I had and was just going to have to go with it.

The youth speaker stands up and talked for a total of three minutes.  And the guy speaking after me leans over and says "take as much time as you want."  Wow.  I have A LOT of time to fill.  20 minutes.  And I'm nervous.  I kept saying silent prayers in my heart to be calm and have the spirit.

I walk up to the stand and am afraid of shaking (like the girl that went before me) in front of everyone so I cross one leg behind the other.  It forced me to remain still and luckily I didn't pass out from locking my knees.  So I started by reading "Dreaming" to introduce us.  Remember that?!  Its the essay/ poem I wrote one day while I was extremely bored subbing.  I finally found a purpose for it--other than just amusing blog readers.

And then I went on with my talk.  Several people afterwards (including my darling hubby) told me it went really well/ they really enjoyed it/ etc.  What I talked about exactly though, I don't know because I didn't follow my outline too well.  I thought I was just rambling but apparently it was coherent.  I read a couple of quotes from PMG and the conference Ensign as well as reading part of a hymn, sharing personal stories, reading a scripture and quoting For The Strength Of Youth.  I wasn't even planning on using that thing but got it out and was delighted that it fit perfect with what I was stammering on about.  I was just praying that somehow my thoughts would be connected.  And I think my prayers were answered--I managed to keep treading water.

My favorite quote I shared (and what I basically built my whole talk around) comes from President Gordon B. Hinckley.  He said "Do you want to be happy?  Forget yourself and get lost in this great cause.  Lend your efforts to helping people....  Stand higher, lift those with feeble knees, hold up the arms of those that hang down.  Live the gospel of Jesus Christ" (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, 597 and Preach My Gospel, 168).  My hope is that each of us can find small ways to be just a little bit happier by serving others through small, unplanned service opportunities. :)

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