How Stuttering Changed My World Beautifully
I haven’t always been who I am today. For the first couple years of my life, I was a talkative and outgoing little kid with a pretty feisty personality. When I think back to my earliest years, I don’t remember ever stuttering. In fact, it wasn’t until one night, sitting at the dinner table, everything changed. I stumbled on a word and just couldn’t make it come out. My parents were completely shocked. What is happening? Why can’t she say the word? Overnight, my world had changed dramatically. Nothing would ever be the same.
Over the days following that night at the dinner table, everything about me changed. As a young child and early tween, my voice was relatively low and powerful. Now, with my vocal cords suddenly drawn tight with the tension from stuttering, my voice skyrocketed in pitch. Although it has deepened somewhat since then, my voice is still high for my age and nowhere near where it used to be. Some of my friends kindly asked me about the drastic change in my voice. They were genuinely confused by the sudden change, and I couldn’t blame them. A lady at a store once told me I had the voice of a Disney princess. At first, I was embarrassed and insecure about my voice change. In my mind, I sounded like a little girl trapped in a teenager’s body. Over time, I believe that God has helped me accept the change. However, I am still working on releasing some of that tension on my vocal cords so I don’t damage them. At this point, my voice returning to its original pitch would just be an added bonus!
In addition to the voice change, my demeanor changed. The early years of stuttering were full of tears, prayers for God to take my stutter away, and insecurities that imprisoned my heart. I retreated into a lonely shell, virtually stopped talking to people outside close family, and shied away from most social opportunities. I went from being extroverted to painfully introverted. I traded boldness for timidity and confidence for insecurity. Again, people often remarked to my parents how much I had changed. I believe through the loving support of my family and help from God, I have finally learned to accept my stutter and have started opening up again. Today, I am still a pretty shy person, but I firmly believe God used my stutter to mold me into what He wanted me to be. I no longer want to be the person I used to be when I was younger. I believe He has used my stutter to teach me gentleness, kindness, humility, and the beauty of quiet confidence. These are lessons I continue to learn each day.
Most of all, my stutter changed how I viewed others. Recently, I posted a thought on my Facebook page: My prayer is that my stutter never makes me stronger without first making my heart softer towards others. Life is not about making ourselves stronger. It is about strengthening and uplifting others. It is about empathizing with the struggles of others instead of only seeing our own struggles. I believe we should have tender hearts that are never too full for someone else.
I can’t imagine life without my stutter, because without it, I wouldn’t even be who I am today. Your differences make you who you are. Embrace them.
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Thinkstock image by den-belitsky