A week ago tonight I did something very brave. I got up in front of about 100 [felt like a billion] women and gave a speech.
For years I have had this belief about myself that I am “slow of speech.” I am the daughter of a master teacher. My father has taught and trained professionally for most of his adult life. But I thought my apple had fallen quite far from the tree. For years I have believed things like this: I am a writer, not a speaker. I can be eloquent in writing, but not in speech. I am horrible at [vocally] explaining things, but give me a computer keyboard and I’m golden.
Simultaneously, I have had multiple experiences throughout my life in which I have been told or prompted (by teachers, friends, God and others) that I should open my mouth more, that speaking would be a part of my future. Me? Really? Me?
So, last December, a friend of mine extended an invitation. She wanted to know if I would come speak at a church women’s dinner meeting in February. I told her, “I think I can do that. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
I thought it was going to just be a room of maybe twenty women. I would only be speaking for twenty minutes or so. No big deal. But the truth was… it felt like a really big deal. A really, really big deal. In fact, that’s exactly how I started my speech. After a few introductory words, I said something like this:
The fact that I am standing here tonight… alive… breathing… smiling… is a very big deal. It wasn’t that long ago that I wanted to be dead.
I went on to briefly share my journey with anxiety and depression. Then I told them that the message I would be sharing that night had saved my life, and that I believe it has the power to change theirs.
That Tuesday night felt like so much more than just a 20-minute speech. For one thing, it was my grandma’s birthday. Of all the days I could have given a big, scary speech, I was grateful it was February 3. I felt like somehow it meant that she was proud of me and would be helping me. It also felt like I was finally shedding the labels I had carried around all my life about my [in]ability to speak and stepping into my destiny… opening my mouth. It was intense, scary, awesome, powerful. A pivotal event and turning point in my life.
Many of my friends who weren’t able to come hear me speak have requested that I share my speech here on the blog. I can’t recreate it entirely, but I will share the gist of my message. Here it is…
Who do you think you are?
When I was a college student (14 years ago?), I took a religion class about the book of Revelation. One of the text books for the course was written by our professor, Richard Draper. It had a cool painting on the cover. I liked the picture (and the class), but I had no idea at the time that the woman on that cover would one day come to be a slight obsession of mine. That woman has come to be my hero and my friend. I wrote a bit about her in our book The Gift of Giving Life. Here’s an excerpt:
While the woman in chapter 12 of the book of Revelation has traditionally been considered symbolic of the Church, most prophetic visions have layers of meaning and many messages for us to distill. How might this excerpt give us deeper understanding and perspective as life-giving women in the last days?
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman. . . . And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, . . . and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. . . . And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child. . . . And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. . . . And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:1–4, 13, 15, 17)
John’s vision of Satan’s vehement, desperate attempt to destroy the childbearing woman can give us a glimpse of just how much the adversary is desperate and ever striving to tear down the mothers of the latter days.
I wondered what the flood of water coming from the dragon’s mouth represented, so I looked it up in Richard Draper’s book. He said, “As the woman flees to her place of refuge, the dragon makes a last desperate attempt to destroy her. Casting out water, his primary weapon, from his mouth he endeavors to sweep her away in a flood of destruction. . . . Just what John intended is difficult to assess. Satan is the father of lies, that much is known for sure. In one way or another, everything that issues from his mouth conveys deception. Perhaps [it was] a deluge of lies” (p. 137).
As I battled to overcome my anxiety and depression, I realized that I was, in essence, feasting upon the words of Satan every single day. I was swallowing the deluge of lies he was spewing at me. I was taking his words and making them my own words. I was thinking those words over and over and saying them out loud. I love what the book of Revelation says about overcoming the dragon. His weapons are lies, so it is the Truth that will defeat him and set us free.
Coming to understand this truth changed my life forever. I already knew that words were powerful, but I had been so beaten down by the darkness that I forgot what I already knew. As I re-learned this principle, I gained unshaken faith in the power of the word of God, spoken out loud. When we speak lies, the dragon’s hold on us it tightened. When we speak the Truth, the dragon’s power is weakened. But what words of Truth are the most powerful and “sharpest” in conquering the dragon’s flood of lies?
Read Part 2 HERE.