Speaking From the Heart

I have a degree in Secondary Education/English and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. I taught high school for four years and was a college professor for three years before I took on the job of education director for a pro-life organization where I worked for four years. I quit a year ago, with the expectation that taking care of two children (I was pregnant with Ella) would not allow me to keep the same hours.

I have also been a speaker for ten years. That is something I never intended to be. I love to learn. I am a brainiac of sorts and memorize much of what I read. I am very logical, somewhat unemotional, and extremely practical.

My longtime friend, speaker and author Mark Hart, (he wrote Blessed are the Bored in Spirit and many other books) approached me ten years ago and told me I needed to speak. He said there were a lot of young girls who needed to hear from a young woman who is living her faith and realize it is possible. I told him—NO.

I could definitely talk about my faith, I had an incredible wealth of knowledge about it and I was living a chaste lifestyle trusting in the Lord, but speaking in front of people was my worst fear.

I told Mark I was too afraid. Then he said, “Didn’t you speak at the pep rallies when you were in high school and even give the graduation speech?  Don’t you teach speech and debate at the school you teach at?

I could see where he was going with this. Then he said, “Maybe the Lord has been preparing you all along to be His voice and to be a voice young woman will listen to.”

You know that scripture quote (Jeremiah 20:7) that says, “You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.” That was going off in my head. I could not argue with Mark, so with his help— terrified—I began speaking. I have to say the first five years—yes, five years— I was frightened and nervous to walk onto every stage I spoke on, and the only way I could do it was to ask the Holy Spirit to speak through me. I could not do it alone. After five years, it really became a part of my life and the fear was gone because I had already had so much practice.

Looking back at the content of my talks, they were very logical, somewhat unemotional and extremely practical…a lot like me!

When I woke up from death, I was different. So different— but yet— the same. Since surviving my AFE, there are times when I feel uncertain of who I am and what I should be doing. This is very, very unusual for me. I have always been very certain of who I am and where I am going. That is no longer a luxury I have since I experienced something so life changing. It is definitely a lesson in trusting the Lord.

My heart was injured physically and somehow emotionally it was set free—free from walls I had been building. I am still logical, but where my brain used to be the dominant organ in my body, now my heart, since it has been healed, is vying for its place as well. It no longer wants to take a backseat to my logic.

Now when I am asked to give talks, I get scared all over again. This time not because of getting on a stage speaking—I can do that. I have realized with what I have been through and what I know now since my AFE does not allow me to give the same old talks. Every talk I give is brand new or has a new twist and where I have always been comfortable relying on my brain, my heart is sneaking into my talks and taking over. I am speaking from the heart. I am speaking from a place of great love and compassion. It’s very different, sometimes uncomfortable, and leaves me feeling vulnerable, but there is freedom. Freedom to be authentically myself, my whole self—heart and all!

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3 comments

  1. Meagan Kenney · · Reply

    I am so surprised to hear that you get nervous before speaking. I would never have guessed it! You are a beautiful speaker and truly do “speak from the heart.” I can only hope that you will still be speaking to young girls when my two daughters are at that impressionable age (they’re only 3 and 6 now) 🙂 Young Catholic women need more role models like you!

  2. Sarah Brush · · Reply

    I love you Mel. I am so blessed to have you as a best friend and my children’s God mother. You are such an inspiration!

  3. Angela Faddis · · Reply

    I could totally relate to this. Figuring out the disease that was causing my mental illness made me feel like my “old” happy self. But, now that I am facing cancer, I feel like my whole person is being rocked. I am still Angela, and yet God is truly transforming me. I have thought recently…I wonder what I will be like a year from now. It is a curious thing, but I am excited to see what God will do with both of us.

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