This story is one I tell often in private conversations, but I have never written it down and shared it with anyone outside my circle. t’s now time to tell it publicly.
I’ll start from the beginning so as to set the stage, and to be able to impress on you why this story brings me joy every time I think of it, or share it. Linda, the woman who I speak about here, knows a lot of this story because I tell her all the time how blessed I am that she did what she did. I am grateful to her, and Ive made sure she knows it.
Linda is my reminder that although God loves us just as we are, He loves us too much to let us stay there.
Events in the year before I met Linda had cemented all the reasons I ran away from holding a microphone. I had started jokingly using the phrase, “All I need is one mic”, (a line from a rap song), in relation to myself and the fact that mic or no mic, I will speak what feels like truth to me whether those listening to me agree or not.
There had been serious fallout the last time I was offered a microphone and I reached out and took it. After the mic incident I closed my mouth. I avoided any possibility of standing in front of people with a microphone in my hand. I had a lot to say, but I refused to say any of it. I blogged, sharing my heart that way; but no one could get me to speak into a microphone. Like Jabez, I was afraid of the damage I could cause. I feared that what felt true to me would be harmful to others. I shut up, fearing that my words would be weaponized against me, and I didn’t have the emotional capacity to once again endure that pain.
Being quiet became a habit for me. Pretending to not have anything to say was my new norm. I had become comfortable there.
And then, when I signed up for a women’s retreat two hours away and needed a ride there, Linda offered to take me.
Thinking I’d get away with my usual social coping mechanism of diverting attention away from myself, I was shocked when Linda read my play. She’d ask a question, I’d give my usual short answer, and hit back with another question. But then Linda waited for me to give a real answer, and she waited, and waited. Whenever I didn’t respond fully she would come back to the question and wait patiently for my response.
There I was in the front seat of her car, trapped, (or that is how I felt). I could feel the real responses rise up inside of me, but then they’d stick in my throat. Every time she asked a question I felt the clamp of being quiet close in around my chest and heart. I squirmed a lot; blinked a lot, (thank God for huge sunglasses); and kept trying to avoid her questions.
But, two hours is a long time to do this kind of dance; so I decided to answer one of her easier questions thinking that would get her off my back. Forcing myself to respond felt like someone was prying my lips open with Q-tips, and coaxing my tongue to move.
Then I noticed that the words were flowing easier. I told her about some of my life experiences and lessons I had learned. Soon it didn’t feel like I was struggling to speak anymore. By the time we arrived at the retreat, Linda had managed to get more out of me than anyone else had in over a year. In her I found an empathetic listener. She embraced me and my story with warmth and grace.
The words had been locked up inside me for so long, and all they needed was for someone to take the time to gently coax them out of me into a safe space. Linda was the person to do that for me.
A couple of weeks later, I accepted an invitation to speak publicly about what had been good about the retreat. I took the stage, reached for the mic, and stumbled through talking about Linda and that drive, and so many of the other good things about the retreat. So accustomed to being quiet, I started to suffer a serious case of imposter syndrome before I had even left the stage.
That didn’t stop me. I’ve kept accepting the microphone whenever it is offered to me if I think that it is a healthy situation. Instead of thinking of myself in terms of the disaster I can bring when I open my mouth to speak in a public setting, I think about all the people who want to hear what I have to say, just like Linda did.
In at least three settings since that life-changing drive, (without me ever telling the story of how I have purposefully stayed away from the microphone), people have spoken words over me that specifically used the word ‘microphone’. I know that my purpose is tied to a microphone, and for a season the enemy of my soul had separated me from that purpose – and I allowed it. Staying away from the mic, laughingly teasing myself that “All I need is one mic”, played right into his hands, until Linda came along and in her own way without even knowing it, she put the microphone back into my hand.
When I got into her van that fateful afternoon, I knew that God loved me, even as the fearful mouse that I thought I was; but now I realize that He also loved me enough to let me not stay afraid of the microphone. For two hours He teamed me up with a woman who could help me get rid of the fear. He gave me the option to make the most of the opportunity He presented me with, or I could choose to to ignore it.
I am certain that He has presented/will present you with similar opportunities.
Through an ordinary person at an ordinary time, He’s given you the chance to let go of fear in a particular area of your life – and it was totally up to you whether you would accept that new life without fear or not.
Did a specific memory come to mind as you read that?
Or maybe, He is about to bring that opportunity to you, and the reason you are reading this now is to prepare you to recognize the moment when it is presented to you.
God loves you just as you are, but He knows there is more for you: a life free of fear of the very thing He created you to do.
He will bring people into your life to show you how to live free of fear of your purpose, just like He brought me Linda. The opportunity is coming. Will you receive it, and walk boldly in your purpose?
Copyright © Debbie Mendoza September 2021