I remember that life-changing moment like it was yesterday. Stopping in the middle of the hall, Charlene leaned over to me and said, “It won’t surprise me if you’re serving on this team with me one day.”
“What?!” my brain screamed. I had shown up for She Speaks twelve years ago literally sick and tired. After listening to Satan’s whispers of “Who do you think you are?” and “They’re going to set you straight. You know you aren’t a speaker!” for weeks on end with no resistance, I couldn’t sleep the whole week before the conference, and my stomach (and all associated) was a mess. Even after experiencing the extreme kindness and nurturing of the Proverbs 31 team, I hadn’t waged the necessary spiritual warfare, so I was a beaten-up, feeling-like-nothing girl.
Charlene took a few steps away before I caught her and asked in a near whisper, “Do you say that to everybody?” She laughed and said, “No. You have a gift.”
Can I tell you what that did to my heart? Instant healing. Someone with a gift herself had taken time to encourage the gift in me, and suddenly I didn’t feel like nothing any more. I saw a shaft of God’s light and promise. Maybe this calling I had been feeling was real after all.
Because another speaker’s encouragement literally changed the course of my life, I delight in doing the same for others whenever I can. Last week I got to do it for someone unexpected. Someone who really needed another woman to see her gift and affirm it.
I love doing all kinds of events, but last week I got to participate in two fund-raisers for organizations I esteem highly–Transforming Hope Ministries, a ministry that battles human trafficking right here in Wake Co., and Family Promise, a national organization that helps families out of homelessness. It’s always a privilege to come alongside of worthy non-profits as they communicate their mission.
At the Family Promise event, there were several speakers before me. One was the Exec. Director of the county program, who herself was part of the program years ago, and another was a recent graduate. Brittany, who is only is only six months out of homelessness, stood to speak to a crowd for the very first time, and she was dazzling. Truly. She spoke as if she had spoken professionally for years instead of trying to be invisible in her homelessness for years. She spoke as if she as was a confident, experienced speaker instead of how she said she felt for most of her life– “like a piece of trash.”
I had to follow her. Yep. It went well, but the truth was that we could have all gone home after Brittany spoke. She killed it.
Immediately after the end of the program, Brittany was surrounded by women praising her for articulating so clearly and with so much vulnerability how it felt to come out of homelessness. I stood in that line! It was a joy to tell her that she has a gift.
A couple of days ago, I got an email from Brittany asking me how to pursue her new passion for speaking, and I was delighted to share about this blog/Speaker Girl Community and also this link on my personal website with ideas about growing a speaking ministry.
I hope you’re not only encouraged here every week but also that you spread the encouragement around. There’s somebody that needs to hear from you that they have a gift. Maybe it’s a woman who has been down and out in some way, or maybe it’s a woman who is sick and tired. Either way, keep your eyes open and encourage!