Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Speak and the World Listens

Last weekend, I attended a speech qualifying tournament.

[Have you ever had that moment where you're writing and you try to write an attention-grabbing first sentence, but can't? Yeah, I'm there. But, my insecurities aside, this was a crazy weekend for me.]

It was insane.

I've looked forward to it ever since I got the e-mail announcing when registration would open.

But... then I got nervous. Really nervous.

I wanted to break. I had to break. It was the last qualifier of the season. And the only one I'd been able to attend.

But everyone was so much better than me. They had coaches. And clubs. And speech and debate was the only thing they did.

For me, speech is one thing among a million.

But I went. And I loved it.

But, you know, I walked into it not really expecting to learn anything huge. Especially spiritually.

NCFCA is a Christian organization, but you know, it's one of those things where it's a competition and you just think about the fact that you're going there to compete with other people.

But I did learn something.

Honestly, I learned a lot.

And the fact that I didn't break made me learn even more.

Take my pride, for instance. I thought there wasn't any way I couldn't break. I'm the best 4-H speaker in my county. I'm among the top in my speech class. I've come so far since I was eleven. When I was the little girl who rocked back and forth on her heels and held her note cards up in her face. I walked into that tournament ready to blow the judges away and make my way to the top.

Even during the tournament, when I was getting power-matched with people whom I had heard were really good, I thought for sure I would break.

But I didn't.

To be honest, I thought there'd been some mistake. As I was going home, I kept waiting for my phone to buzz. For it to be a friend or one of the heads of the tournament, telling me there'd been a mistake; a typo; something.

But there wasn't.

That was harder than I thought it would be.

I'm okay with it now. And I definitely learned from it.

Someone has to win, someone has to lose. If we all won, it wouldn't be a competition.

And what about prayer? Giving God complete control of everything.

One of the biggest things I struggle with is letting God have control. I've always been the "do it myself" kind of person. Independent, not wanting to admit to anyone I need help. But during this weekend, something that God showed me (actually, a better way to put it would be something God smacked me in the face with) was the huge difference between the rounds I spent time in prayer before, and the round I chatted and joked with my friends before.

Before my first and third rounds, I spent quite a bit of time praying, begging God to help me convey my piece in a way that would honor Him and bring across to people what I wanted to bring across. I walked out of those rounds feeling confident and like God had spoken through me with every word and every motion. In my first round, a judge cried. In my third, all three were so stunned, it was all they could do to shake my hand and smile when I thanked them.

But before my second round, I had several friends with me. We were all hanging out and chatting and joking and just having a good time. There's nothing wrong with that. But I wasn't thinking about my piece, or what I had to do and say. And then, my mom came to watch as well, and I was talking to her and.. I completely forgot to pray. My turn came so suddenly. I went in, and did well, but my mom and I both knew I could do better. Much better.

Giving everything to God is so important. Even in seemingly small things like a speech competition. I think a lot of times, even as Christians, we don't really think about the fact that God cares about every teeny, tiny minute detail of our lives. He wants to see us succeed and do well. He wants to fill us with strength to do whatever we're doing: even a speech.

There were other things that filled the weekend. Things that made me smile, laugh, stress myself out, and so much more. Things that are running through my mind that I can't sort out. Things that make me wish my mind wasn't so busy.

But the weekend was amazing. God is amazing. The things He showed me in that short amount of time are things I pray I never forget. I know this post seems kind of scattered, but that's how I'm feeling about the weekend. While I loved everything, not breaking was a bit of a let-down. But it's okay. It's all okay. What I need to concentrate on now is what God taught me, and what He gave me that weekend: a lot of time with a close friend I rarely get to see, a chance to speak competitively, a big lesson in being prideful, another huge lesson in the fact that God cares about everything in my life, and a greater understanding of other things in my life that have in the past left me confused and reaching out into the void of misunderstanding.

It was an amazing weekend.

And I wouldn't take it back for the world.

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