When members first join the Church, they are often terrified at the possibility they may be asked to speak in front of a congregation. Even contributing ideas and opinions in a classroom setting may be frightening. It takes a great deal of courage for these new members to share their feelings and their testimonies out loud.
Sister Pamela Obaro had been particularly shy, even before she joined the Church. She says, “Shyness and nervousness have always made my life difficult. High school and college were trying, because I was too afraid to answer questions verbally. Job interviews were equally hard, and it was difficult for me to secure employment.”
After she joined the Church, Sister Obaro sometimes skipped Church meetings for fear she would be asked to offer a prayer. “I felt badly having a testimony and not sharing it with my fellow brothers and sisters, but I was too nervous to speak up,” she reports. One Sunday, she was asked to offer a spiritual thought the next week, and the assignment seemed overwhelming. She confesses, “As I walked home after church that Sunday, I thought seriously of never returning.”
That afternoon, she decided to take a nap. Before she dozed off, her six-year-old son, David, walked into the bedroom holding a copy of the Pearl of Great Price. He had opened the book to Moses, Chapter 6, and he asked Sister Obaro to read it to him. She told him she was tired, and she closed the book. But David pleaded, “Please, Mommy, just read here.” Again he opened to Moses, Chapter 6, and pointed to verse 31. Sister Obaro began to read about Enoch:
“He bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying: Why is it that I have found favour in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?
“And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open they mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good” (Moses 6:31-32).
Even before David asked his mother to explain these verses, she had a new feeling inside. In their native tongue, Kiswahili, she explained that the Lord promised to help Enoch and to make his weaknesses his strengths. Satisfied, David smiled and told his mother to continue her nap.
However, she did not go to sleep. She spent her nap time pondering the realization that she is a special child of God and that He had a purpose in sending her to earth.
“The next Sunday I was nervous,” Sister Obaro reports, “but I gave the spiritual thought. I was later called as a Relief Society teacher, and with the help of the other sisters and my loving Heavenly Father, I was able to teach the lessons. I was subsequently called as first counselor in the branch Relief Society presidency.”
Indeed, with the help of our Heavenly Father, each of us is able to overcome our weaknesses and fears. Like Sister Obaro, our fears can become faith; our weaknesses can become our strengths as we serve Him and our brothers and sisters in the gospel
Excerpted by Marnae Wilson from “Too Nervous to Speak Up,” Pamela Akinyi Obaro, Ensign, August 2000