1. I have stage fright so telling a funny story helps me relax.
2. My job is to engage the audience; if anyone yawns I feel like I’ve failed.
3. Time is precious and if people give me the gift of their time, I’d better make it worth their investment.
4. Humour has opened the door to most of my speaking opportunities so I try to meet the expectation of my audience by delivering some chuckles.
There are probably other reasons as well but I’ll save those for the therapist.
So here’s the deal. This week, while on tour in the USA with Girls Night Out I was “leaving it all out there” as sportscasters like to say when the team plays hard. At the key point of a story, I flung myself off the stage and landed on the floor, about 18 inches below. This was not in the script. I am not a cat. I did not land on my feet.
At first there was raucous laughter, then gasps, then a hush fell over the room and a woman ran to where I was sprawled on the floor and asked if I was all right. “I don’t think so,” I said, laughing nervously as one does when one finds oneself splayed indelicately for all the world to see!
I got up, using my left arm gingerly, recounted a couple of funny anecdotes about other falls at other times (never while speaking!) and finished the program. On the way back to the hotel, Mary Messina (the director of Girls Night Out ) and I swung by Walmart where I grabbed a sling, Ibuprofen, and an ice-bag. By the time we got settled at the hotel I knew I had done something nasty and the decision was made for me to leave the tour early and have another speaker step in for the last three events.
It wasn’t a “bad” break, only a compression fracture on the top end of the smaller long bone in the forearm so I didn’t need a cast. Apparently the Walmart sling was adequate along with some high powered painkillers!
So I’m back home cooling my heels — and icing my elbow — and enjoying the care of my husband as he cooks and waits on me. (He drew the line at styling my hair though so I’ll have to pull on a toque if I plan to leave the house!)
So what do we do when plans change suddenly? Do we assume that we weren’t following God? That we had taken a wrong turn somewhere and if we’d been doing the right thing, this catastrophe would not have come upon us? Emphatically not! Life is sometimes hard. All of us experience seasons of suffering, of change, of loss, of betrayal, of discouragement, of pain, of illness. Does that mean we are somehow out of God’s will? I don’t think so.
Take a minute to read Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians if you don’t think followers of Jesus experience hard times. Nowhere does the Bible say that we will not suffer if we follow Jesus. In fact, it is more likely that we will suffer if we want to walk with Christ. Instead of letting our suffering distract or discourage us from following Him , we can use it as an opportunity to trust and to listen.
- Perhaps God wants to get our attention.
- Perhaps God wants to give us a chance to experience His love, comfort and care more personally.
- Perhaps God wants to redirect us.
- Perhaps God wants to give us empathy for others who suffer and a message of hope to carry to fellow strugglers.
- Perhaps we should pay closer attention to where the stage ends and open space begins! (in other words, we can learn from our mistakes)
So I am trusting and listening and believing that the God who knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139) and who knew all my days before a single one of them began, also knew that on a rainy night in Paris Kentucky I would trade in my stage fright for stage flight and launch myself into an unexpected season of suffering. If nothing else, it gives me a chance to practice what I preach as well as great material for future stories!