My youngest son was having a literal panic attack the morning on which he and a few other children were to read a passage of scripture up front at church for Palm Sunday. He was shaking and could hardly talk.
He takes after his mother.
For me, the fear response to public speaking – or public anything – is not even a fraction as bad as it used to be. No, I don’t medicate myself, which actually used to help me through. What changed? What changed was that something occurred to me: A truth moment about myself.
Fear is a giant beast with shifting contours, a slippery menace that grows and crushes. It sucks the air from the room, leaving one gasping.
Or is it?
Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, somehow I found the secret room behind the platform. I stumbled there, I wasn’t looking for it; I was just trying to escape from Fear. I pulled the curtain back and found him.
But it wasn’t Fear……….it was Pride.
Pride was disguised as Fear. He had been there the whole time. All those years, and he was exposed as a sham. He wasn’t scary. He was a joke. He was a little man with a big microphone and a projection screen.
Simply put, all this time I was afraid of looking bad. Would people like me? Would I say something foolish?
I turned to my son and told him about my discovery.
“Mom, I’m not afraid anymore. I’m going to do it.”
“Son, I wish it hadn’t taken me 40 years to find this out.”
He got up at church and read wonderfully. He really is just like his mother.