by Donna Berger –
I am so filled with joy when I see young people who are faith-filled and trust in the Lord as they face challenges in life. This week’s blog, with his permission, is written by one such young man. My cousin, Chris, is a smart and personable twenty-year-old with great ambitions for his future and he just happens to love pepperoni pizza. He gives each day two hundred per cent. One hundred for the regular stuff and another hundred in managing his stutter. The letter “p” is a really challenging letter for a person who stutters and in a paper he wrote for one of his classes, Chris relates a time when a “round was lost” to the letter “p” and he settled for a sausage pie instead of his favorite pepperoni pizza. He then goes on to say:
“Stuttering is a personal struggle, one I think about and try to overcome every time my mouth opens. It’s tackled head on every time I speak, consciously or not. I’m enrolled in a senior military college, close to fulfilling my dream of being an officer. I have discovered a passion for law and strive to become a lawyer in the future. Both of these careers are centered upon strong confident speaking…Juries will not be swayed by a lawyer who is unable to strongly convey his case. Since I was very young, I have envisioned myself in situations like these. In dreams I’ve spoken normally with no hint of a stutter. I’ve always envied the man peering back at me through my mirror—the one who approaches the girl after class without questioning if his morning practice was adequate, the one giving a seamless passionate defense of his closely held values in a lecture or debate. The man in the mirror never has to change what words he plans on saying when a stutter is detected and can utilize every inch of his expansive vocabulary. Then I remember that the man on the other side of the mirror is me.”
“I often look to people who struggle or have struggled with stuttering and went on to change the world. Marilyn Monroe’s harsh stutter surely did not permit her to become one of the most iconic actresses of all time, yet she was able to showcase her stunning talent and captivate audiences for decades. Perhaps the greatest villain in American movie history, Darth Vader, was made possible only by the voice of Golden-Globe-award winning actor James Earl Jones—a voice that still struggles with stuttering to this day. Made fun of into his adult life for having a stutter as “Joe Impedimenta,” former Vice-President Biden went on to hold the second-most important position in the Country for eight years . And perhaps it is fitting that while writing this piece the 2017 World Series was won by Houston for the first time in franchise history, led by the homerun of series MVP winner George Springer, who used to point to food on a menu at restaurants rather than order out loud because his stutter was so silencing. There are some big shoes to fill. While examining their stories, one common denominator becomes apparent; they all talked as much as possible, putting themselves in unimaginably uncomfortable positions. Only then were they able to persevere and make an impact on the world. Biden has said that his stutter turned out to be his greatest asset in life, as it desensitized him and hardened him for future struggles. Turning my weakness into an asset will take frustration, perseverance, fortitude, and even pepperoni pizza, but all I can do is open my mouth and work for it. Then, maybe one day I will be an example for other stutterers to look to when times get tough.”
Hebrews 13:16 tells us, Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
What an inspiration Chris is to us in this regard. I happen to know that it is faith that centers this young man. There is no hint of negativity or anger in Chris’ words. Just a believer who is facing the challenges in his life head on, full of the enthusiasm and strength that God showers on those who trust in Him. And, in the midst of his own trial, Chris is thinking of a time when he can help others. Jesus’ words, “Love one another as I have loved you,” are imbedded in the heart of this young man. Chris, thank you for reflecting the goodness of God to those around you. The next time I see you, the Pepperoni Pizza is on me.
Praying for all our children that the Lord nurtures their tender hearts in faith and that He draws them closer to Him with each passing day.