Our trip to North Carolina made me realize that God has been preparing me for my path for some time and I didn't even realize it. Author Stacey Harris was the keynote speaker of the event and something she discussed spoke volumes to me. Each of us has our own flame, our purpose in life. Even when we don't recognize it, use it, or even try to put it out God will reignite that flame. Never did I think I would be where I am today. Co-hosting a radio show, conducting seminars, and traveling the country trying to "Make Marriage Cool Again".
Growing up I was extremely shy. It was difficult for me to stand in front of an audience and have all eyes on me. It terrified me. It still does. I remember the very exact day I needed to take control of my fear. It was in middle school. Each student was required to make a presentation in front of the class. It would take a couple of days to get through every student, but I was so happy that I wasn't among the first to be called on. During the first day's presentation I witnessed something I'd never seen before. As one of my classmates began her presentation she stopped mid sentence. I thought she was trying to collect her thoughts, however she began to hyperventilate and she started crying. The teacher took her out of the classroom and when he came back he explained that what we saw was a panic attack. I went home that day thinking to myself I don't ever want that to happen to me.
I had no idea of how to get rid of my fear of public speaking and I was too embarrassed to ask for help. It would be years later, in college, that I would learn how debilitating that fear could be. During a required speech class which I left for the very last of my liberal arts classes a fellow classmate visibly trembled as she gave her presentation. Our instructor later advised us the ability or inability to speak in front of large groups of people will separate the successful from the unsuccessful when we got into "the real world". She said many high paying jobs required you to be able to give presentations, conduct seminars, pitch ideas, and basically try to sell people you by what you are saying. That struck a nerve. I wouldn't be successful if I didn't get over my fear.
It wasn't until I was working for a major telecommunications company that I was forced to confront my fear. Imagine working for a company where its survival is based on communications and I'm afraid to do so. My responsibility was providing customers information over the phone. That was easy. I couldn't see them. They couldn't see me.
I was in the company for three years when an opportunity was presented for anyone who wanted it. The managers needed a new support team. That meant you learned the management job while still in your current title which would help you if you wanted to take on a management role in the future. The interviews were conducted in a glass partitioned office right near my desk. Afraid to put my own name in the pool I watched as each potential candidate went in to have a meeting with the call center manager. Within a week the management team had chosen the select few for their new Acting Management Team.
About a month later, after both the management and acting management team were getting acclimated, my supervisor came to me and told me she wanted to me to begin learning something new in the office. She began showing me the duties of the acting management team. Even though I had not interviewed for the position my supervisor felt that I should be on the team because of my work perfomance. I put the flame out. She reignited it.
I was in the company a total of 12 years and this was an ongoing cycle. I tried to put the flame out and God would reignite it. I was asked to be a co-facilitator for a workshop that would address team dynamics in corporate environments. Then I was asked to be on a committee to improve employee relations which required me to convince my peers to complete a survey which usually had a response rate of less than 50%. I helped improve it to more than 90%. One of my final tasks was when I was asked to conduct a workshop on personal development based on the best-selling book "Who Moved My Cheese?" Every time I was asked to do one of these projects there was a battle inside my head. I knew it would benefit me in the long run, but I was scared out of my wits to have to stand in front of any group of people. I was also scared to say no because it was always in the back of my mind that I would not be successful if I didn't get over my fear.
You would think that after all of that I would have mastered this by now. No. Two years ago I was presented with an opportunity to co-host a radio show with KL. What do you think I did? Of course, I put out my flame. Instead, for almost two months, I sat back and watched as he and his two co-host did their weekly show and I would make notes of what they could do to improve the show. They gave me the unofficial "manager" title. I still don't know when I got sucked into be on air regularly, but it happened. Flame reignited.
Due to circumstance beyond our control the show was cancelled after about six months. A few months later KL and I were presented with the opportunity to do our own show about relationships. My first thought was to say no. There was no way I could co-host a radio show. I thought about it for a couple of days and realized it was time to ignite my own flame. Black Love Radio was born.
Over the years people have seen in me something I thought I was hiding. My flame. My purpose. I have to laugh sometimes because no matter how many times I try to avoid it I was put in a position to have to speak in front of an audience. Even when KL and I were asked to host a Valentine's event at a church in Delaware KL did most of the talking. The pastor said to me you are quiet, but people need to hear from you. Before that night was over a young woman came to me in tears because she said my testimony was helping her.
Although it has improved considerably, I still have trepidation about public speaking. I have to mentally prepare myself, days in advance, when I have a speaking engagement. There are times when I am at an event and I am asked to speak and I wasn't expecting it. It causes some anxiety, however I no longer try to put my flame out. I allow it to glow because I realize it is the purpose that God has given me in life and I understand that my flame may ignite the flame in someone else.