I used to enjoy public speaking. I was thrilled when, during my senior year in high school, I was chosen to emcee our school Homecoming festivities. Although I must admit it wasn’t for a particularly good reason. According to Mrs. Monroe, who was my high school English teacher, my voice carried across the classroom. Even when I was trying not to be heard. Apparently, that made me a good choice for Homecoming emcee, because the sound system hadn’t yet been installed in our new high school gymnasium. Soon after that, I was emceeing at music festivals and churches across three states when our gospel group sang on weekends, and I was in my happy place.
Not surprisingly, one of my favorite classes in college was Oral Communications. I remember rehearsing the timing and inflection of every word of John Donne’s No Man Is an Island, which appears at the beginning of Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. With little prompting, I think I could recite those timeless verses today with almost the same intonation and rhythm.
But I couldn’t do that in front of an audience.
Somewhere between college graduation and the new Millennium, I lost my confidence for public speaking, something my first publisher found out when they set me in front of a video camera for a taped interview to promote my first book. I was shaking so badly, in body and voice, the tape was later deemed to be technically unstable. I still shudder when I think about that interview.
In the years since, I have wondered how my mass communication skills could have plummeted so far and without an inciting incident. Somehow, it just happened.
Or did it?
Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. Maybe I’m in a new season of life. A season with a different harvest. A season of writing and not of speaking. God knows that I still have a lot to say. And it is, perhaps, that pent-up need that now propels my words onto paper.
Three books after that fateful interview fail, the words are still coming, but on paper. I can now say that I’m a storyteller, a novel writer, a woman with a testimony. But I’m not a speaker, and that’s okay. The seasons have changed but there is still a harvest.
How has God changed you through the years? To what end has He changed your ‘purpose under heaven?’
Kathy Harris is an author by way of “divine detour” into the Nashville entertainment business where she works as a marketing director. For several years, she freelanced entertainer biographies and wrote, as well as ghost wrote, news stories and columns for various music publications. She sold her first Christian nonfiction story in 2007. Her debut novel released in 2021.