Contrary to popular belief, I don’t actually enjoy public speaking.
I have to do a lot of it for work.
And like everyone else in my church, I have had to take my turn giving talks (sermons – our church does not have paid clergy, so we all take turns doing the work of Sunday services).
I can even do well enough to get positive feedback sometimes.
Other times I make mistakes the same as any speaker, like the one time I thought I was speaking for 15 minutes but it was supposed to be 50 minutes.
(15 and 50 lip read the same, by the way.)
Sometimes my nerdy self has something to offer, other times I’m asked because of clinical experience but it doesn’t always transfer to church spirit-ness and I struggle to make it work.
But I don’t ever actually enjoy it.
In fact, I get so anxious – every time – that by the time I finish speaking, my body is covered in hives.
It’s all very unpleasant, actually.
But my family needs the money, so I do it for book tours or clinical seminars, and at church we all have to take turns so that we learn together, like it or not, so I am willing in an obedience kind of way.
And tomorrow is my turn.
Except it is in Salt Lake.
I got an email, the same email everyone else for these meetings got, and it included the agenda and all the conference talk topics – which had my name on it!
Not Just Survive, but Thrive, by Emily Christensen, it said on the program.
I emailed back, asking if they meant to have my name on it or if they meant someone else.
They said they meant me, but would talk to me later.
Several weeks went by, and no one called me back, which only made me more anxious, so I checked in again to follow up.
That time they gave me an appointment to call.
I called the priesthood department back at the correct time and he said, “Your life has been hard for several years, we thought you might want to talk about that.”
“And your baby, is she still with us?”
She’s not dead yet.
“What a miracle that one is. We just wanted to invite you to share your story.”
They went on to discuss in detail all the crazy things that have happened in the last eight years.
That was a fifteen chapter book, like literally. I don’t know how to turn it into one talk.
It would be fine, they said, because I would be the luncheon keynote and have the whole time to speak.
So I have tried my best.
I have studied and prayed and written and prayed and rewritten and edited and prayed and edited some more.
I have practiced the timing and tried to remember to look up from my paper once in awhile.
But I have been covered in hives since last night, and by tonight was in full blown panic attack.
I have a lot of stressors in my life, but I am not a panic attack kind of girl.
A talk, though? That will give anyone some anxiety.
It’s just my turn for that, too.
Besides that, I am so homesick I am nauseous, so it’s all just a bad mix.
And maybe I am anxious about more Kyrie results tomorrow, or missing my children, or being off work so long, or going back to work the day we get home, or just how to give that talk tomorrow in front ofthose people who know and care and serve so much already.
It was bad enough that I finally had to reach out for help. I messaged Nathan, who, speaking of panic attacks, is back home counting the minutes until he gets to take the other five children to his parents’ home tomorrow! We did our scripture reading and we prayed, but he also was very sweet and sent me a song.
It’s a Brandi Carlile song, and I don’t even know if he knows how that takes part of me way back in a good and comforting kind of way.
But it was soothing.
Part of the song says:
I was already home,
right where I was supposed to be
You were right in front of me
And I guess, whatever it is that makes any of us anxious, the easiest thing is just to run, or to hide, or to fight your way out of it.
But I am home with Nathan, already, even when I miss him.
And giving a talk isn’t the end of the world, I suppose, especially when your talk is about how adversity isn’t the end of the world.
So ironic, right?
So much opposition, so dark and cold, and all I am trying to do is tell my story.
Or maybe I am trying to avoid telling my story, since it leaves a girl so vulnerable when there are so few safe places in the world and this feels pretty public, more public than writing a book about it.
Excepting I don’t have to talk about me.
I just have to testify of my Savior, the one who rescued me, and that I can do.
And when I am homesick, having to give a talk so far away from Nathan’s encouraging smile, I just have to look in our little book he hid in my suitcase for this moment.
It’s the book we started on our wedding day, with love notes back and forth between us these five years.
Next week is our anniversary.
And I open it up to the newest entry, where he has written me a sonnet.
Of course he has.
And with love from a Savior,
and love from a husband like Nathan,
the world can’t be such a scary place, right?
A girl could do anything, with love like that.