Vigilantes, I really hope you find this story as funny as I do. Some stories are just too good to keep to myself.
Last evening after our Night of Vigilante Kindness Stories, I walked to the help desk to turn in the form the library requires to ensure all is as it should be in the room they generously let us use for free. With all of my bags of Ugandan treasures weighing me down and the library closing in one minute, the sweet librarian mistook me for a homeless person and kindly let me know where the local nearby shelter is located.
Mind you, knowing that public speaking is not in my comfort zone, I’d put on an outfit I feel great in: tall boots, cute skirt, favorite color shirt, 2 paper bead necklaces and 7 paper bead bracelets because 8 is too many, obviously. I thought I was looking okay, but apparently after hanging with you guys for an hour and a half, I looked TORN UP. After sweating through my talk, I probably smelled torn up, too.
I handed the librarian my form and explained that I’d been speaking in the community room. Her face turned a quick shade of pink and before she could say anything else, I said, “Have a good night!” and hauled my bag-laden self out.
With my self-esteem skyrocketing, this afternoon I opened an email from a woman who attended our Night of Stories. In her e-mail this gentle soul felt free to confirm that I am indeed AWFUL at public speaking. I had to laugh at her list, yes-her list, of my inadequacies.
Now, Vigilantes, I thought I’d made it abundantly clear last night that public speaking is NOT my gift. I did say that out loud, right?
Here’s the thing, dear Email Woman, I warned you at the start of my talk that public speaking cripples me and that it wouldn’t be pretty. You decided not to heed my warning and instead you stayed through my whole talk and then some. So, in my mind, that’s on you.
I’ve thought about these two encounters a lot this evening and this is the good news. God delights in using people like me who have a little bit of a lisp and a paralyzing fear of public speaking. It’s that whole “in our weakness, He is strong” thing.
Paul, my favorite writer in the Bible, the guy who knocks my socks off every time I read Ephesians and Philippians, had a speech impediment and I imagine public speaking wasn’t his most favorite thing either.
As for looking a little torn up last night, John the Baptist looked torn up all the time, eating bugs and wandering the wilderness, stinking to high heaven I’m sure, oh and, by the way, preparing people for Jesus.
I’m not saying I’m a Paul or a John the Baptist, far from it. What I am saying is this: God doesn’t need perfect people. He’s already got perfection covered, thankyouverymuch. He needs imperfect, ragamuffin people who need Jesus like we need air or water.
People like me.
People like you.
Even on the days when we feel, and let’s be real maybe even smell, like a complete disaster.
It takes a lot for me work up the guts to speak in public. It’s hard to stand up in front of people and talk about this very personal and incredibly rewarding work you and I get to do together.
I used to wish I were more poised, that when I spoke, my pores wouldn’t all simultaneously decide to sweat out all the perspiration I’m allotted for the remainder of my life. I used to wish my voice flowed with smooth assurance.
I don’t wish that anymore.
I kind of love that when I get up to talk, my voice will shake and my pits will be extra pitty. As I stand up there swallowing bundles of nerves, I stand knowing that my most paralyzing weakness is on display for you.
I stand there also knowing those are the moments when God is bursting with fatherly pride.
One of my favorite things about God is that He doesn’t use us in spite of our weaknesses, He uses us because of our weaknesses. I don’t know about you, but that floods me with all kinds of relief.
I may have acute stage fright that leaves every layer of my clothing dank with sweat. Sometimes I may look and/or smell wrecked, but I’m still going to keep talking about this wild adventure in Vigilante Kindness we’re on together.
Some stories are just too good to keep to myself and ours is that kind of story.