Last month (November 2021) I had an experience that I never dreamed possible. Also, it never crossed my mind as something I would even want to do. I was a speaker at a conference. When Tyler, my boss, first asked me if I would be willing to speak at this conference. It was my understanding that I would be leading a workshop for around 20 people. While that would be uncomfortable, it was doable because I have led breakout sessions before but those have all been online and this one was going to be in person. That changes things, but I had enough faith in myself that I could still manage an in-person workshop. So I said yes.
However, come to find out that was not all I would be doing and as the weeks started getting closer items kept getting added to my list. Like the fact that I would not only be speaking in the workshop but I would be speaking on the main stage. Yes, you read that correctly, MAIN STAGE. (Cue anxiety attack) But I had already said yes and there was no getting out of it. So I took a deep breath and ignored it. There was still four months before the event, so no need to stress out at this point.
As the weeks grew closer I was asked to be a part of a virtual hub interview, where I knew none of the questions that were going to be asked, talk about going in blind. And if you know me you know I am a planner through and through so this was way out of my comfort zone.
But then I took a step that changed everything. Starting in September I made the decision to personally see a counselor. I told my counselor that I encourage so many people that I talk to to find professional help, but I myself was not practicing what I preached. I knew my anxiety was an issue I couldn’t handle on my own, but I thought I was managing it. News flash, I was not, only fooling myself to believe I was. I truly believe that this was in God’s timing because between talking to my counselor and reading books about how the mind works. I was able to find freedom in my anxiety. I hope you caught that. I found freedom IN my anxiety, not from it. I still have anxiety but I had pieces that I always clumped in with anxiety that were actually something else. Anxiety will always be a part of me but I now have to tools to manage it and shorten the span of time when anxiety rises up in me.
What does this part of my life have to do with speaking at this conference? EVERYTHING! Because I had walked through those steps into the person God created me to be, I was able to stand on that stage in front of thousands and speak with a confidence I have never had before. Before we even walked out on the main stage where my senior pastor and I were speaking I had a peace and calmness about me. Even when last minute we needed to add something to our speech. I didn’t freak out about that change. That was very unlike the old me. We stood on that main stage and spoke, then headed to our workshops and that virtual interview, which I still had no idea what the question would be. After that long day of speaking was over, my throat was sore and voice almost gone, but I was so energized. I was so humbled and honored that I had the privilege to be a speaker there. It was truly an amazing experience and the people I got to meet were just as amazing. I hope to do it again someday but I never want to take any experience like this for granted.
I pray that this blog today was an encouragement to you and can help in your daily life. Always know I am available to pray with you or just be someone to talk to when life gets hard. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need prayer!
Talk to you soon!