Speak Up


“Speak clearly, if you speak at all; carve every word before you let it fall.”
- Oliver Wendell Holmes

Early in my life (grade school) I had a huge speech impediment. How bad was it? Well, let’s just say that I sounded like I was speaking in tongues long before I knew what that meant! I’m not sure how it happened (I suspect my worn out 4th grade teacher) but I found myself enrolled in a speech therapy class with a few other kids. We met once a week with a teacher-therapist person who had the unfortunate job of getting us all to speak clearly.

I don’t remember all the speaking issues represented in our sessions but one kid was a huge stutterer. Me…I was different, I slurred my way through the English language. When I got excited or nervous, I would slur all my words into one long word. Many, many consonants and vowels were injured along the way.

So, every week we would gather in a small room and try our best to repeat the words on the flash cards the speech expert would hold up…this was NOT a good plan. Between my slurring and the other kid’s stuttering I’m sure the other kids never had a change to try their hand (or their tongue) at this exercise. After weeks of slurring and stuttering flash card madness the sessions suddenly stopped. I’m guessing we drove that poor woman to leave and join a nunnery, taking (happily) a vow of silence.

Since those days of slurring sloppiness, God has helped me overcome most of my slippery diction. What remains is mostly unnoticeable and something I use to good-naturedly poke fun at myself. However, for many years I was afraid to raise my voice, to speak in front of people despite the call I felt on my life. I allowed my speech impediment dictate my boldness instead of trusting the Father to help form the words correctly as they rolled off my tongue. It took years, but finally I learned how to speak up and say what was on my heart. I have no problem standing in front of people and speaking and even if I mispronounce a word (or a few dozen) it doesn’t keep me from sharing.

What made the difference?

Believing that God gave me voice…that there was value in what I had to share and even in the way I share it. I’m not the greatest orator, the most compelling speaker or the best communicator you can listen to…but I have a God given voice with a message uniquely mine.

And so do you.

The message of what God has done in your life is huge. It needs to be heard, it needs to be told…by you. It’s too valuable to be stilled by imagined inadequacies, by the enemy’s reminders of what you lack. There is power in the voice the Father has given you…all you have to do is speak up…and trust.

“For I will give you the right words and such wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to reply or refute you!” Luke 21:15 NLT

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I always get encouraged when I think of Moses. How he was called to lead despite he was a stutterer. So I don't mind my accent or anything else. If our Father calls...there's no excuse! Thanks for sharing, Jay! Great post! BLESSINGS!
Jay Cookingham said…
Moses was in the back of mind when I wrote this...and you are right...if the Father calls...we need to speak up! Thanks Mari-Anna!
Tony J. Alicea said…
Wow, what a story. I've listened to you on podcasts and I would have never guessed. 

This reminded me of The King's Speech. We all have a voice. Sometimes we just need someone to help us find it.
Jay Cookingham said…
I loved The King's Speech and although I was not a stutterer, I could relate. Thanks for the kind words Tony!
bill (cycleguy) said…
With me Jay, I have always had the ability to speak.  Too much.  Foot in mouth disease.  You know.  But the enemy has also tried to shut me up by reminding me of past sin.  Asking me, "How can you when you?"  I remind him that God gave me forgiveness and He gave me a voice.  Thanks for the great reminder.  And glad that you did not allow your speech impediment to keep you down. We would have lost a great voice.
Jay Cookingham said…
You keep on reminding that enemy bro'...you have a voice that the world needs to hear. Not because it's fueled by Bill but by the creator of the universe! Thanks bro' for being in my life....appreciate the words of encouragement.
S. Etole said…
Great verse to accompany your encouraging thoughts.
Eddy Damas said…
Awesome testimony. I was never as blessed as you were though...all my speech therapy lessons were private. Now...almost 25 years later I am working on actually lowering my voice...hahahah
Jay Cookingham said…
Yeah...well, everybody tries to hide the mic from me now Eddy....even my family! LOL! Bless you bro'

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