I never thought I’d look back on my life and see stuttering as a gift. But it was the catalyst that started me on a journey from fear to faith and helped me understand I am a spiritual being capable of great, transformative change and growth.
I spent decades as a stutterer. In fact, I was almost 50 when I first heard these life-changing words: My mind controls my body. What I think about I bring about. I grew up believing the opposite. My father stuttered, and I believed I had inherited my stuttering from him.
Stuttering shaped me from an early age. I spent so much of my energy trying to hide it, avoiding speaking specific words I knew I would stutter on. I did this to avoid the hurt of mean comments, laughter, and teasing, especially from my classmates at school. When I was about 10 years old, I stopped speaking altogether and wrote what I wanted to say on a small, portable blackboard.
A Child of God
Those early experiences took root in my mind as I grew up. When I was introduced to Unity in 1994 and learned of Unity cofounder Myrtle Fillmore’s healing journey, my life changed.
Myrtle believed she had inherited illness and was destined to live as a sickly woman. I believed I had inherited stuttering and was destined to live with it. The words Myrtle had heard during a lecture in the 1800s—I am a child of God, and therefore I do not inherit sickness—resonated perhaps as powerfully for me a century later as they had for her at the time. The story goes that Myrtle took those words to heart and used affirmations and other positive statements of spiritual Truth to change her thinking and ultimately her health. I did the same. My affirmation—I am love. I am joy. I am enough.—helped me see myself as so much more than a person who stuttered.
As my beliefs began to change, I began to really examine my thoughts. I discovered I was focused not on the words I wanted to say but on whether I would stutter as I said them. I was a covert stutterer, ashamed and fearful.
This realization also helped me understand that stuttering covered a deeper issue, my fear of rejection. Of course, I had the fear that I would not be loved and accepted as a person who stuttered, but I came to see how this fear showed up in other areas too. For instance, I was 68 when I was ordained. I wondered, Am I too old? Am I able to prepare meaningful, touching Sunday lessons? I would even say what I thought someone wanted to hear, afraid to speak my truth.
In this place of acceptance, understanding where my fear came from and working with spiritual principles … guided and strengthened me.
A Place of Acceptance
As I grew spiritually, my goal shifted from wanting to speak fluently to accepting myself as a person who stutters. In this place of acceptance, understanding where my fear came from and working with spiritual principles—specifically, There is only one presence and power, and I am an individualized expression of that One—guided and strengthened me. I now have the faith to say what is mine to say and embark on new experiences. Wherever I go and whatever I do, the presence of God is always with me. It’s who I am.
I was ordained in 2005 and recently retired after 16 years. After years of being afraid to talk, getting paid for public speaking still makes me smile. I have traveled throughout the United States and internationally presenting workshops for people who stutter. I share my story and offer techniques, but mostly I show up authentically and in full acceptance of myself. I am no longer a covert stutterer. I stutter occasionally and practice voluntary stuttering when I do. Self-acceptance has helped me do this, and that sure didn’t happen overnight.
My journey of acceptance began when I heard Myrtle’s words and knew them to be true for me. With my faith in God and the Truth Unity teaches, I know I am never alone, wherever my journey takes me. I am truly grateful.