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Afraid Of Public Speaking?

EARLIER in my life, I had a fear of speaking in public. On the occasions when I had to speak--which I made as rare as possible--I was fearful and uncomfortable, and each time required a great effort. Most of the time I felt I spoke badly.

One day, a friend invited me to join a speakers' club. Here was an opportunity to face the challenge--to grapple with my fear of speaking, of forgetting my words, of getting confused, of appearing ridiculous, of what others thought. I had failed to overcome this problem on my own, and while I welcomed the help the club would provide, I knew that on its own it wouldn't be enough. So I turned to the Bible in prayer. The Bible often tells us to ``fear not.'' From my study of Christian Science I had been learning that we can obey this Biblical command because God is always with us, loving and caring for us. We don't have to be afraid, because we can listen to God to tell us what to say.

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I read the story of Moses the lawgiver, who said in prayer, ``I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.'' The book of Exodus continues: ``And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? . . . Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say'' (4:10-12).

God is imparting all that man needs to know. He gives us spiritual ideas that are appropriate for any situation. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, puts it this way in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``The intercommunication is always from God to His idea, man'' (p. 284).

Christ Jesus taught us a lot about our relationship to God--who He is and what He does for us. And Jesus told us to put our full trust in God, not in ourselves. God never leaves us or forgets about us. Jesus' words in Matthew's Gospel assure us, his followers, that when we trust God to guide us, we will know what is required in any given situation. He said: ``It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you'' (10:20). Our ability to speak and what we say comes from God.

Mrs. Eddy explains further in Science and Health: ``Mind is not necessarily dependent upon educational processes. It possesses of itself all beauty and poetry, and the power of expressing them. Spirit, God, is heard when the senses are silent'' (p. 89).

This was the test for me--Was I willing to trust in God, to rely wholeheartedly on His government of the situation? Yes, this time I truly was. I prayed. I declared that God, the divine Mind, is the source of my intelligence, providing spiritual ideas appropriate for any situation. This ongoing spiritual activity was not going to stop when I stood up to speak in public.

My next assignment at the speakers' club was an impromptu speech. Before I had been at a loss for words and had never completed the exercise. This time, I felt my courage and confidence rising within me! I just loved the audience, and rejoiced in the opportunity to express God in this way. Appropriate ideas came, and my speech just flowed.

I can't say I never had another challenge with public speaking, but progress had been made! Instead of struggling, now I prayed, remembering that God, not I, is the originator of all ideas. Then one evening, as I stood up to perform an assignment, I realized that the mesmerizing fear was gone. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude! Now I no longer feel fearful about standing up and speaking when it's required.

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