Yesterday I did my first speaking engagement as Executive Director of my organization. I was invited to give a speech on volunteerism in Canada to a group of new immigrants. It was my first time speaking in public in almost 6 months. Before hand I was rather nervous, it was almost like a race car driver getting back behind the wheel after crashing (alright, so I know nothing about driving a race car, but you get the idea 🙂 ).
Almost as soon as I stepped behind the podium, everything came back: The feeling of being “at home”. Feeling that internal “switch” turn on when I am on stage. The feeling of being “connected” with the audience, even though I didn’t know any of them personally. Seeing thoughts turn into words, words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs in my mind. The feeling was just as I remembered it. And it felt…good. I focused on encouraging them as new immigrants, and stressing to them that they can make a difference in the communites they live in through volunteering.
Afterwards many people came to talk to me, telling me they were encouraged by the talk. I spoke with one person after another, shook hands with them, trying to learn their names (It was almost like church!). But one encounter in particular stopped me in my tracks.
A spanish speaking lady came up, we spoke for a while, and then she asked me:
“Are you a Christian?”
It’s been a long time since anyone had asked me that. To be honest, it’s been a long time since I have thought about myself in those terms. I found myself hesitating, not knowing how best to respond. Finally I said, “Um…yes I am.”
She explained to me that she is Catholic, and how she has been struggling as a new immigrant to this country. And then with tears in her eyes, she gave me a big smile, and said:
“I could tell you are a Christian. I see God in you”
“I see God in you.”
For 6 whole months, every night I hear the judging, condemning words that was spoken to me 6 months ago by those whom I thought were my friends.
For the first time in 6 months, someone said something to me that went to that same place in my heart where those hurtful words were stored.
For the first time in 6 months, I hear the condemning voices begin to fade, and I felt a sense of…healing.
“I see God in you”
Chalk it up to another step forward.