I spoke at a women’s breakfast on Saturday. I woke up feeling calm, arrived in good time, ate a substantial breakfast with the nice ladies at my table, and stood up to speak feeling confident and not in the slightest bit nervous. And then, a couple of minutes into my talk, it all began to go wrong.
If you had been sitting at the table closest to where I was standing, you would have observed me develop a strange twitch in my left leg, go progressively redder and sweatier in the face, and begin to speak as though I was being interviewed on Radio 4 with the presenter trying to cut me off (i.e faster and faster and more and more desperately). I left my body and looked down on myself and thought “this is really terrible. This is infact a bit of a disaster.” Half way through there was a discussion time, and I went into the ktichen area at the back and cried with the organiser, who to her great credit stayed entirely calm and managed to get me together enough to reemmerge and continue. The second half went much better. I suppose I felt the worst had already happened.
Now this is why it was a mitigated disaster and not just a plain old disaster. Somehow, through the inadequacy of the delivery, what I wanted to say was heard loud and clear by those who needed to hear it. People with depression were encouraged that they were not alone. People felt liberated by my honesty, and began to open up about their own struggles. Those who are supporting depressed people felt better equipped to continue doing so. And for at least an hour after the event officially finished there was a buzz of animated conversation around the room.
I spoke to my mum on the phone that evening, and she sent me in the direction of 1 Corinthians 2, on which note I will finish this painful post! God can and does work through weakness- I can testify to that, even if I wish I was immune to inconveniently timed attacks of stage fright.
Paul speaking here…
“When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”