THE FEAR OF BEARING YOUR TESTIMONY
"The human brain starts working the moment you are born and never stops until you stand up to speak in public."[i]
ADAMS FIRST REACTION TO THE FALL WAS FEAR
An interesting find in Biblical study is Adams reaction to the current state that he placed himself in. Adam being the first man to set foot upon this earth was told that he could partake of any fruit in the Garden of Eden accept the fruit that was then labeled by God unholy. The so called, "punishment" of partaking of the forbidden fruit was knowledge and progression. Upon Adam and Eve partaking of the forbidden fruit they both received knowledge that they were naked and were ashamed to the extent that when the Lord called upon them they hid themselves because they were naked. The story goes as follows: "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself."[ii]
FEAR IS LEARNED
"Psychologists today tell us that children have two instinctive fears (all others they learn): one, the fear of loud noises; the other, the fear of falling".[iii]
Infancy: From the instant we leave our mother's womb we are born into a world of natural forces such a gravity that cause us from the very beginning of life to experience fear. There is nothing that the infant has done that would cause it to experience fear but that they are born into a world filled with forces uncontrollable to the child. It is inevitable to avoid because our very genetic makeup is wired and predisposed to experience it. Behavioral scientists tell us that, "Any behavior is instinctive if it is performed without being based upon prior experience (that is, in the absence of learning), and is therefore an expression of innate biological factors. Sea turtles, newly hatched on a beach, will automatically move toward the ocean. A joey climbs into its mother's pouch upon being born. Honeybees communicate by dancing in the direction of a food source without formal instruction."[iv]
Another way to look at this is from an LDS perspective. "Suppose, there is a little swallow, taken from his nest when young, and kept since then in a room. Autumn has come, and the little bird gets restless and wants to be off. We open the windows and away he goes to the far off sunny south. Who told him of an approaching winter? who showed him the way to milder climes? The voice of nature. Who taught the birds to build their nests so beautifully that no artist, with all his skill, can imitate them ? The voice of nature. The ostrich takes out of the nest one of the eggs, carries it some distance, knocks a hole in it, and leaves it exposed to the burning sun, which soon causes it to decay, and flies by thousands put their eggs in it. By the time that the young ostriches have been hatched out from the remaining eggs, that one which the mother threw away is full of worms, which are the first food for the young brood. Who told the ostrich mother to provide in such a manner for her young? The voice of God through nature. Who taught the bees and ants their social organization with captains and queens, and wild geese to choose a leader? Who tells the crows and storks of lands beyond the wide sea when and how to change their locations, and teaches the young lamb the voice of its mother? The God of nature. He directs them all, leads them all, organizes them all, and all creatures in the universe follow that voice; the sun, the moon, the stars, the rivers, the land and sea, the birds of the air, the beasts and creeping things."[v]
Because fear in deeply imbedded in us are infants beginning their life in sin? A resounding NO! The Book of Mormon is very clear and concise about this matter, "little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them;"[vi] Instinctive fears from an infant is one of the many blessings the Lord has blessed them with here in this life not a "sin."
PUBLIC SPEAKING IS NUMBER ONE FEAR
The fear of public speaking is practically hardwired into our DNA. It is very rare to come across someone who enjoys public speaking. "The idea of making a presentation in public is the No. 1 fear reported by people in the U.S."[vii] Even Jerry Seinfeld makes this subject a part of this stand up comedy. "Speaking in front of a crowd is considered the number 1 fear of the average person. I found that amazing. Number 2 was death! This means to the average person if you have to be at a funeral you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy." Unlike the infant, the fear of public speaking is learned from all many assorted and various ways to large and daunting to add here at this time so I will just add a few.
Reasons Why Public Speaking Is Number One Fear:
1. You believe people are judging your public speech
2. You judge the people giving public speech
3. People get up and tell you during their speech how scared they are
OVERCOMING THE FEAR OF PUBLIC TESTIMONY BEARING
"The interesting thing about the human condition is that the minute we experience pain, [embarrassment or threatened] we never want to experience it again. So as a result, we do things that we feel will ensure that we do not get hurt."[viii]
Some people have desperately resorted to drugs, some have resorted to hypnosis, others have resorted to group therapy and some have resorted to acting out their fears by practicing. If there were a pill to take that would help you overcome the fear of public speaking then that would by far be the greatest invention and genius of man. Since this is an impossible task then I will resort to things that may help us overcome this terrible ailment.
1. One way to overcome your fear of bearing your testimony is simply to stop judging people who do bear their testimony. Instead of rolling your eyes at Sister or Brother so and so because they bear their testimony every single Fast Sunday, thank them for their courage and effort to do it and develop an attitude of envy towards their courage.
2. Another important step to take is to stop judging and placing labels on members who do bear their testimony. We hear words such as, "Story-mony" or "Thank-a-mony." Placing these types of labels on members testimonies are hateful pessimistic judgments that poison your character and in the end prevent you from bearing your testimony because you realize that there are people out there just like you who only make fun and judge others testimonies.
PUBLIC SPEAKING IS NOT THAT HARD
“It's quite simple, Say what you have to say and when you come to a sentence with a grammatical ending, sit down” –Winston Churchill
"Public speaking is the art of diluting a two-minute idea with a two-hour vocabulary."- Evan Esar
[i] George Jessel
[ii] Gen 3:10
[iii] Truman G. Madsen
[v] Karl G. Maeser Millennial Star VOLUME XIX. pg. 71
[vi] Moroni 8: 8
[vii] Paul L. Witt, PhD, http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/20061101/fear-public-speaking
[viii] Nadia Ballas-Ruta
Be prepared if you want to bear your testimony
Always remember that it's ok to cry