When there was a need for me to dress up in formal attire for the first time 7 weeks ago ever since landing here 8 months ago, I had a coat in my wardrobe, all thanks to my husband. I was asked to coordinate and speak to about 100 national and international audiences. I was ready with the formal attire on that day, but I was the least bit ready with what I should be talking about, and yet, many complimented that I did a good job on speaking.
And then 3 weeks ago, there was another necessity, and my formal attire was ready, of course, with my trusty formal coat that I didn’t want in the first place. This time round, it was to speak in front of 1000 odd audience who were well-experienced pioneers and leaders. I was partially prepared time this, with some serious last minute changes. Once again people complimented.
Today, I was an emcee once again, this time at a Christian college graduation ceremony. Out came my formal coat, yet again. I had neatly packed it away thinking I wouldn’t need it here anymore. How wrong was I. At the end of the ceremony, every single person I spoke to, acknowledged my work and literally praised me. I only smiled sheepishly and thanked them for their generous comments.
In these 3 occasions, people have always asked me similar questions. How is it that you speak so fluently? I like how you are so bold. Your English is so good. Do you not feel nervous at all, especially in front of so many people? I’m mesmerised by the way you speak. You’ve got such a good voice. I like your accent! (Disclaimer: These are the exact words that people have complimented me with, not my own words at all).
Each time someone complimented me on my talking skills, I never got it! If you ask me, I’ll deny each and every one of those statements. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher had to put me right at the back of the class cos I couldn’t gather enough courage to ask the girl sitting next to me to move so that I could go to the toilet. I’ve always had stage fright up till my postgraduate studies, and even after. I’ve never participated in any debates or impromptu speeches. I’ve never been fluent in public speaking. I remember skipping classes when it was my turn to give a presentation. I’m always nervous in voicing out my opinion when there are more than 3 people listening to me. I’ve always been shivering on the inside when I have to be a part of a presentation due to compulsory grading system at university. I was never late for classes because I didn’t want anyone to look at me.
My weaknesses of the past are my strengths today. All of a sudden, the tables have turned miraculously. Everything that I hated doing before, I now enjoy doing it. In fact, I now willingly want to do everything that I hated doing before. I hated teaching, I now find myself drawn towards teaching. I couldn’t bear to speak in public, but I am pulled into it now. I hated having people look at me, I’m now willing to place myself on the stage.
But I didn’t practice to become better at it. I didn’t even work for it. If you had asked me ten years ago about my goals, public speaking wouldn’t have been one of it. All these are possible only because God ever so graciously made it so. He is the Lord who transforms. He is the one who enables. He is the one who equips. He took my weaknesses and transformed it into my strengths, because He wanted to use me in that. Till today, I still don’t get what people mean when they say I spoke so well, but I get that it’s the heavenly intervention that has happened. And that’s all that matters.
I’m putting away my coat today, telling myself never to assume that I might not need it again in the near future.