Monday, August 4, 2014

Breaking the Fear Bone

I went to the Greater Philly Christian Writer's Conference this week- it was chock full of classes, workshops, sessions and appointments- so much so, that I need a few days to recuperate after I came home!

The classes were awesome (though I missed the main one I wanted to attend due to appointments- good thing Torry Martin said I could buy his book- Shameless Self-Promotion!) I did manage to get an appointment with him, though. I had to admit, seeing him face-to-face, I wanted that long red hair he has. Gorgeous! Since the appointment we had was only fifteen minutes, I asked the only question I was desperate to have answered, "How do you get up on stage when you're scared to death?"
His answer? "Just go up and do it."

Egad. the man was a hack. Where was the list of breathing exercises? The "Rah-rah-you can-do-it" speech? The "Just call me anytime day or night and I'll help you launch your career" support? And why didn't trumpets from God sound when he said these supposed words of wisdom? I took this all in stride and thought maybe, just maybe I could learn more from his classes. (And his hair really is that gorgeous in real life).

Ah, well. Maybe the rest of the week will be fruitful.

It was.

Occasionally I was given the opportunity to bless others. I was looking for a seat for services when I noticed one lady rubbing her arms and shivering. I asked if she was okay and she mouthed the words "Peri-menopause cold flash". I smiled, because at that very moment I was having a major hot flash, so I offered to sit next to her. After a few minutes she smiled and leaned in to whisper "Thank you, I'm much warmer now!" 

Just using what God gave me, sweetie...just using what God gave me. In the meantime, the audio faculty was sitting in the booth above me toasting s'mores over my head. I was glad to help.

Sometimes you learn lessons outside the classroom, and blessing others can mean blessing yourself- in unexpected ways.

After overhearing some of the faculty lament over how stressed they were, I shared with them my "100% Surefire Way to Get Rid of Stress and Nervousness". Marlene Bagnull, the Ringmaster of this particular circus, liked it so much she asked me to show my technique to the entire audience of conferees during the morning services.

I'm sorry....what?

Go up in front of everyone, and do my silly little technique? Didn't this woman know when I get up in front of a crowd, I'm somewhere between bed-wetting and a near-death experience? Apparently not. Then God whispered in my ear.."Remember what Torry said."

Just go up and do it? Oh please God, tell me you're kidding! My knees went to jelly just thinking about it!

So stop thinking about it and just do it.

Yes, Sir.

Marlene was nice enough to give me a code word that would cue me to "interrupt" her announcements. Otherwise I would have just sat there and forgot what I was supposed to do. I tried boosting my confidence before the announcements.

Just get up and do it. You can do it. You can. You might need a mop afterwards, but you can do this. Just thank God that the floors are tiled and not carpeted.

Then Marlene said the code word. I was up!

Inside I was a mess of nerves. So nervous that I didn't even use my own technique to get rid of it! But I got up, did my spiel, and was surprised to hear...laughter! And applause! I did it! I did it! I just got up and did it!

Torry Martin is a GENIUS! I'm buying all of his books!

The best part? After I did my technique, you could feel the entire room settle down- the tension was gone. I had helped the entire audience relax and settle their nerves. God is good, and my wall of fear crumbled into dust.

That fear has been a wall that's been up since I was in grade school when I froze on stage dressed as Shirley Temple (I was the only kid with naturally curly hair). It felt weird not having that wall there anymore. 

Oh, I had "battle nerves" after I sat down next to Marlene (I was shaking like a jackhammer), but an excitement ran through me that could only be God and the Holy Spirit saying "WOOHOO!"

During the rest of that day I had people coming to me and saying they saw their classmates using my technique before class. I was so tickled! When one person did it, everyone laughed, and it helped a lot of people settle down for their appointments (which can rattle anyone's nerves)! 

When Marlene began to play my video that evening, I heard soft gasps of delight as my face showed up on the screen- the conferees remembered me and were looking forward to the video. They loved it, and those sitting next to me made me get up and take a bow. I was grinning from ear to ear and my face felt flushed- and this time I wasn't in the middle of a hot-flash.

I felt like I could really reach out and touch people's hearts. I really could "just get up and do it". The wall of fear was down, and I could see the sun shine for the first time in decades. And it felt good.

Thank you Marlene, for putting up with an over-exuberant nutball. Thank you conferees, for being willing to laugh, to share, and for all the congratulatory hugs and handshakes. Thank you Torry, for listening and giving simple but powerful advice. You are so not a hack- but I still want your hair. I just wish I could have told you all this in person! (Not the hair part but the other part...you know what I mean!)

I have some nibbles on my book proposals, so I'll be working on them this week. As for this breakthrough? I'll be working on what to do with my new found confidence (and yes, something to do with those techniques I was talking about)- so watch out, world! Here I come!


2 comments:

Kate Hodges said...

How often do we let fears from childhood slow us down? All to often me-thinks. Thanks for sharing, perhaps I will yet manage to conquer my own fears.

thea williams said...

It was, indeed, a wonderful, God-filled conference, Beth. Thanks for all your helpful hints about how to overcome those jitters and rejection! Blessings, Thea

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