It’s that same, familiar feeling. My heart starts beating at an awkward, too-fast, going-to-trip-over-itself pace, my face starts burning and my hands are strangely moist. I have to swallow a few times so my heart doesn’t leap out of my throat in place of the words I’m trying desperately to arrange just right so everyone can understand the passion that is bubbling inside of me.
I’m not a shy public speaker.
In fact, I’ve grown to love talking in front of groups, having gotten over the initial rush of nerves that frequently comes prior to boldly delivering my two cents to strangers who may or may not even be listening, or are perhaps thinking of something much more brilliant than me. Despite recognizing that I have much to do in the way of learning how to listen, I can’t fight that feeling that takes hold when there are words weighing so heavily on my heart I feel as though I might burst.
I second guess myself often, usually wondering if I am just on some kind of me-trip, suspecting that it would do me well to encourage other voices to speak out, but people never ask me to shut up.
Through slow, deliberate practice, I am learning how to share more of the conversation by acting mostly with my ears instead of my mouth.
But it happened again today.
The words attacked me and practically threw themselves right out of my mouth. Another tangent later and I’m left reeling in introspection at how this could be. What is it inside of me that drives such outbursts? Where do these words come from and why should they knock so vehemently on my breastplate? After all, I’m only a sophomore in college and the collection of books I’ve read pales in comparison to the collection that’s yet to meet my eyes. It truly is a confusing experience for me – to be in this in-between place where something tells me I am doing exactly what it is I was meant for, while simultaneously feeling utterly unqualified and unjustified as I stand before people sharing my truths, prodding them to seek deeper into the heart of the issues we are confronting.
There are oceans inside of me; convictions like waves lapping ceaselessly against my heart. Convictions that spill over into what this summer means for me and into the conversations we find ourselves in with the people that inhabit this beautiful state.
I often reflect back to our week spent training at Wilmot, listening to Marla and Craig talk about this movement that we are apart of. I remember feeling like there was something prophetic about the words they were saying. As we sat around a table in the rural mountains, sharing the food we all helped bring to the table and talking about building a world anchored in love, meaning, and justice, I couldn’t help but imagine that our actions were echoing the underground meetings of the first Christians. The great swells of passion and motivation I felt in those moments and continue to feel are hard to ignore and seem to only be picking up momentum.
So yes, I am often unsure of myself and very much aware of the discipline I need to learn in settings where other voices need to be heard. Yet at the same time, this summer is acting as a magnifying glass on the places within my soul that have been burning to be exposed and used for good. I am overwhelmingly grateful for the people that have been placed in my life, the relationships I’ve had the opportunity to build and for the countless things I have learned and will be learning in the days to come.
I don’t always know why it is I feel like I carry something that needs to be said, but I am becoming more and more comfortable with the conclusion that perhaps, I am in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.