A couple of weekends ago, while in Pennsylvania on our road trip visiting family, my uncle Doug invited me to speak at his church about my new book. It was 9:30 on Saturday night, 12.5 hours before their church would start the next day, and they were hatching an exciting plan to use Stick’s Masterpiece as part of a care package for their children’s hospital charity drive. I was thrilled, but the sudden speaking request to 300 people was making my hands shake.
Yeah, right. Good one. Of course I’m not going to talk about my book. That was my first thought. But then I made myself entertain the wild possibility.
It would be pretty cool, and it’s not like they’re going to make fun of me. And even if they do, they live in Pennsylvania.
Okay, maybe I could do this. A surge of nervous energy wafted over me at the possibility. Nope. No way. I’m not going to do this, but good job me for thinking about it.
Then my Aunt Robin chimed in. “You know you have no choice. You have to do it. Your book is about overcoming fear, right? Okay. Good talk everyone. Sleep well.”
I didn’t sleep well. At 12:15 I finally stopped looking at my clock. At 4:30 I jotted down some notes. Thankfully, I was feeling pretty good about my notes, so despite my lack of sleep, I calmed down a bit.
At 9:20 we were busy getting lost on our way to church. We don’t have a smartphone, and apparently Pennsylvania is famous for not having road signs. By 9:45 we rolled into the church parking lot.
I have spoken at church before, I am Mormon after all, but this was new and unfamiliar. I was beginning to worry I’d say something wrong, perhaps by accidentally slipping into Mormon-ese, or something. Despite my anxieties, we were warmly welcomed and kindly escorted to our seats with complimentary breakfast snacks. Hey, Mormons should have complimentary breakfast snacks! I’d be up in 40 minutes or so, during the announcement part of the program.
It turned out better than I could have hoped. I soon felt I was among friends, and the words came without too much struggle. Afterwards, handfuls of people eagerly came up to compliment me. It was an awesome feeling, and next time I must face a fear, I’ll be sure to remember this small victory to urge myself onward. In this sense, facing one’s fears can have a powerful domino effect.
Coincidentally, they record their sermons each week for anybody to enjoy later. If you’re curious, you can jump 40 minutes in and see just as I begin my remarks. Please be gentle with your comments :).