When I (Chris Coursey) was two years old, I started having painful, debilitating ear infections. These were no ordinary ear infections. These were crippling ear infections that kept me up many nights in an inconsolable state. Now that I am a father to young boys, I can appreciate what my parents must have endured watching their son in this shape! Two surgeries and three years later, I finally found relief.
One of the consequences of my ear infections was the inability to hear what people were saying. Sounds were muffled. I could not hear subtle changes in voice tone and intonation. When people were speaking, I could not accurately hear what was being said. This meant, inevitably, that I mispronounced words. What I was hearing was not what others were saying, so certain letters and vowel sounds were difficult for me to pronounce. My difficulties resulted in speech therapy throughout my grade school years. Thankfully, there was a silver lining in my predicament. To compensate for my limited hearing and speech issues, I learned to visualize words. Because I “see” words when I think about them, I excelled at spelling bee competitions! Speaking in front of people, however, was not so fun. I eventually developed anxiety around public speaking. By the time I reached college, I dropped speech class several times due to my fear. How ironic it is that I would go on to be a pastor – and a public speaker.
One of the significant skills that helped me overcome my fear of speaking was Skill 11 – Return to Joy. You see, I struggled to quiet my fear and return to relationship from my big feelings. More so, I did not know how to recover from shame. So, my fear was more about feeling ashamed because someone might laugh at me, or poke fun at what I perceived was a weakness.
As my emotional brain finally learned that fear or shame would not be the death of me, I realized something profound: I really like speaking to people and, I have something to say! For the first time, I felt empowered. Little did I know there was a strength around the corner from my weakness. All this time I was too afraid to go searching for the gold that God placed within me. This gold was a gift that reflected God’s nature and character. Finding this gold in my identity was Skill 6, Identifying Heart Values. Little did I know that my fear was a breadcrumb trail leading to a significant discovery about something God placed in me. This was the treasure He couldn’t wait for me to find!
Here is your invitation for a little exploration. While there are fears that are the result of painful events, we can look at how our fears hinder us from being the people God made us to be. Does a certain fear keep you from thriving? This is a good topic for some interaction with the Prince of Peace. Another question for consideration is this: What do your fears say about you in terms of the “gold” God placed in you that is just waiting to be discovered? Ask Immanuel and notice what comes up. I pray these thoughts lead to something special for you.