“My name is Ngina”
At least that’s how it’s supposed to come out.
“Mm..y n.ame is..is..i.s n…ggggi..gi..na..”
You can barely read that am sure.It’s a jumbled, drawn-out, awkward. Harsh to the ears. Painful to watch.
Introducing myself is one of the hardest things I have to do as a child.
I have a bad stutter.
The problem with stuttering is that once you begin to talk, the mouth and vocal cords engage automatic gear. You can’t stop talking even when you want to.
Usually you want to the ground to open up and swallow you after the first spasm or jaw lock. But then the vocal chords keep running, nay, spasming, until they empty themselves.
And it’s not just the words you want to stop but the small jerking head movements and robot-like hand actions.
It feels like a bad movie. Only worse, because you are starring – and you can’t even leave.
Some kids laugh when I talk. But most kids my age don’t seem to notice. I am normal. I talk funny sometimes. But am part of the group. In our group there are those who walk funny, have a funny dad, live in a funny house, tail funnily in school.
But it’s a child’s world – dissimilar doesn’t mean abnormal.
It’s the big kids I have the most trouble with – the adults.
They laugh at me. They like to hear me talk. But they cut in and finish my sentences. They mimic how I talk. They give me nicknames.
Sometimes, I am petrified by unfamiliar surroundings, new people, expressing myself. At the back of my mind, I know who I am and what I want to say. But then what I want to say gets caught somewhere in my throat.
Expressing myself is difficult. A white-hot temperament doesn’t go well with a stuttering tongue either. My mind is quick, too quick sometimes. So am angry and impatient with myself most of the time.
In high school, long after my lips have found a semblance of stability, I find myself in class with an outspoken girl. She sits at the back of the class. One day she looses her voice.
The whole week, we all sit and listen to her debate and talk with teachers in loud, scratchy, irritating whispers. Some days, she tries to stand up behind her desk as she makes a point.
A subconscious belief that adding some inches to her height might carry her voice further.
“Why won’t you just shut up?” Seems to be the question on everyone’s mind. One teacher jokingly tells her to.
But my classmate never stops talking. She couldn’t. Talking is in her blood. Her voice eventually comes back and life goes on.
A stuttering life
In life, there’s rarely a red-carpet welcome for wild dreams and aspirations. We desire it, but rarely receive it. We start out by working hard to convince ourselves. Then working harder to convince others.
Some of us are blessed to have friends or family who believe in us from the get go. Sure we sound a little crazy in the head, talk funny, act even funnier. But they accommodate and encourage us anyway.
But regardless, all of us will encounter naysayers and dream-killers – people and situations whose greatest thrill seems to come from mocking or challenging our dreams.
Like my high school classmate and if we hope to achieve any form of success, we need to learn how to continue talking even when our voice is gone.
In other words, find courage to pursue our dreams even at our weakest moment.
As a child, I remained overly conscious of the “big kids” – the adults who made fun of me. Consequently, any “adult”, (read, challenging environment) had me shutting down.
Or the opposite, working myself to a miserable stupor to prove something. I did outgrow my childhood stuttering (for the most part), but as an adult, I am still learning how to talk while afraid.
Do it stuttering
Many of us are waiting to stop stuttering before we do something about our dreams. We are waiting for others to believe in us. We are waiting for the fears to subside. Or at least some form of assurance that whatever we launch into will succeed.
Caleb, the ancient Hebrew man of faith and Jonathan, King Saul’s son, seemed to have what can be called “may-be” faith (Joshua 14:12 & 1 Sam 14:6).
They desired victory but did not wait to have all their goose in a row, in terms of faith, before stepping out. They said “maybe the Lord will give us victory“. They stepped out and did something with imperfect faith.
Often, we’ll just have to do life with maybes, not guarantees. Those that wait for guarantees often wait forever. But those that step out with a stutter end up doing great things. The only guarantee God offers is “I have your back”. He promises to neither leave us nor forsake us.
That, my friend, is the only guarantee we need.
Question – Do you believe that you can succeed with “maybe” faith? Have you ever stepped out and did something while stuttering? Please share your thoughts or experiences in Comments below.