I Can Calmly Face My Shortcomings

May 22, 2024

By Zhao Chen, China

I’ve spoken with a stutter ever since I can remember. It usually wasn’t too bad, but whenever there were a lot of people around, I’d get nervous and start stuttering when I spoke. When my parents saw that my speech wasn’t fluent, they said, “Can’t you just speak more slowly? No one’s trying to cut you off.” This was a blow to my self-esteem, and I didn’t want to speak too much anymore. After starting school, it was like this too. When the teacher asked questions and had me answer, due to being nervous, I couldn’t respond to questions I knew the answer to, and my stuttering became more severe. This led to the other students imitating my speech. When I was in junior high, I was the class leader. One time, I saw that the teacher had arrived. I got nervous, and when I called for everyone to stand up, I stuttered again. After hearing this, my classmates and the teacher were all roaring with laughter. I felt like I had nowhere to hide, and I was dying to find a hole to climb into. Due to my feelings of inferiority, I barely ever left home and hardly spoke at all. After I started believing in God, the brothers and sisters saw that I had a stuttering problem and didn’t fellowship much, so they encouraged me, saying, “Don’t worry about your stutter. Just speak a bit more slowly; it’s fine as long as we can understand.” With the encouragement of the brothers and sisters, I started to practice fellowshipping. Gradually, I grew more familiar with the brothers and sisters and wasn’t too nervous when speaking. At the time, I felt a sense of liberation and freedom that I’d never had before.

However, I noticed that when gathering and fellowshipping, the brothers and sisters often asked me, “What did you just say? I didn’t understand. Could you repeat that one more time?” The first couple times I didn’t make too much of it, but hearing them tell me this often, I became afraid that they’d look down on me, that they’d say I was already grown up yet still stuttering, and that I couldn’t even speak clearly. I became very nervous when fellowshipping, and as a result, my stutter got even worse. I felt quite embarrassed, and I worried that the brothers and sisters would think that I was useless, that I was good-for-nothing trash. So, I no longer wanted to speak when I went to gather later. I was afraid that the brothers and sisters would say that I wasn’t speaking clearly, that they wouldn’t understand me. One time, when we were gathering and eating and drinking God’s words, I gained some knowledge and wanted to fellowship, but as soon as I thought of my stutter, I didn’t dare to fellowship when the words reached my lips. It felt like I was an alien. The brothers and sisters could enunciate their words clearly, but what about me? I couldn’t even speak clearly; would God still want a person like this? Gradually, I became less and less willing to speak during gatherings. In the past, I’d gained some light from eating and drinking God’s words, but now I couldn’t fellowship on any of it. The gatherings went by so slowly, and I got no gains or enjoyment from them. Each gathering felt like I was standing on the scaffold at an execution site. During gatherings, I didn’t fellowship unless I had to, and if I really couldn’t get out of it, I would just reluctantly fellowship a few words. I felt extremely suppressed and in pain, and I even complained about and misunderstood God, thinking, “Why do other people speak so clearly and fluently, while I not only don’t speak fluently, but also have a stutter? How can I speak fluently like the other brothers and sisters so that other people don’t make fun of me?”

Later, in the church election, the brothers and sisters selected me to be leader. I thought to myself, “If I perform leadership duties, I’ll interact with more people. Won’t that mean more brothers and sisters will know about my stuttering problem? Forget it, I can’t do it; I don’t want to keep embarrassing myself.” With that, I rejected the duty. Later, my leader fellowshipped with me, and finally I begrudgingly agreed. However, because of my stutter, I always felt like I was a cut below the brothers and sisters, and I lived inside negativity, unable to extricate myself. Every day, I felt as sluggish as a sloth. I couldn’t muster up any energy during gatherings, and I wasn’t willing to fellowship. Sometimes, when brothers and sisters ran into difficulties, I understood in my heart how they should resolve them, but I was afraid that I’d start stammering when I spoke and that they’d look down on me, and so I didn’t want to fellowship. I just told the sister I was partnered with about the problems and had her resolve them. One sister saw that I didn’t fellowship at gatherings and asked me what was wrong, and I told her about my state of feeling inferior because of my stuttering. This sister encouraged me, saying, “Everyone has their shortcomings, but they don’t affect our pursuit of the truth. Your stuttering is caused by nervousness. Rely more on God when you speak, and don’t get anxious. If you speak a little more slowly, the brothers and sisters can understand.” Hearing this sister’s words, I felt a bit more comforted. God had used this sister to help me, and I shouldn’t keep being negative due to my stutter. I was willing to reverse my state and face my shortcomings properly.

Later on, other sisters fellowshipped with me as well. I realized that I was nervous when interacting with others because I was afraid people would say I fellowshipped poorly. This was all caused by my caring too much about losing face. I brought my state before God and prayed, asking Him to guide me to understand this problem of mine. One day, during my spiritual devotion, I read a passage of God’s words: “Instead of searching for the truth, most people have their own petty agendas. Their own interests, face, and the place or standing they hold in other people’s minds are of great importance to them. These are the only things they cherish. They cling to these things with an iron grip and regard them as their very lives. And how they are viewed or treated by God is of secondary importance; for the moment, they ignore that; for the moment, they only consider whether they are the boss of the group, whether other people look up to them, and whether their words carry weight. Their first concern is with occupying that position. When they are in a group, almost all people look for this kind of standing, these kinds of opportunities. When they’re highly talented, of course they want to be top dog; if they are of middling ability, they’ll still want to hold a higher position in the group; and if they hold a low position in the group, being of average caliber and abilities, they, too, will want others to look up to them, they won’t want others to look down on them. These people’s face and dignity are where they draw the line: They have to hold on to these things. They could have no integrity, and be possessed of neither God’s approval nor acceptance, but they absolutely cannot lose the respect, status, or esteem they have strived for among others—which is the disposition of Satan. But people have no awareness of this. It is their belief that they must cling to this scrap of face to the very end. They are not aware that only when these vain and superficial things are completely relinquished and put aside will they become a real person. If a person guards these things that should be discarded as life, their life is lost. They do not know what is at stake. And so, when they act, they always hold something back, they always try to protect their own face and status, they put these first, speaking only for their own ends, to their own spurious defense. Everything they do is for themselves. They rush to anything that shines, letting everyone know they were a part of it. It didn’t actually have anything to do with them, but they never want to be left in the background, they’re always afraid of other people looking down on them, they’re always fearful of other people saying they’re nothing, that they are incapable of anything, that they have no skills. Is this all not directed by their satanic dispositions? When you are able to let go of things like face and status, you will be much more relaxed and freer; you will have set foot on the path to being honest. But for many, this is not easy to achieve. When the camera appears, for example, people scramble to the front; they like having their face on camera, the more coverage the better; they’re afraid of not getting enough coverage, and will pay any price for the chance to get it. And is this not all directed by their satanic dispositions? These are their satanic dispositions. So you get coverage—what then? People think highly of you—so what? They idolize you—so what? Does any of this prove you have the truth reality? None of this has any value. When you can overcome these things—when you become indifferent to them, and no longer feel them important, when face, vanity, status, and people’s admiration no longer control your thoughts and behavior, much less how you perform your duty—then your performance of your duty will become ever more effective, and ever more pure(The Word, Vol. 3. The Discourses of Christ of the Last Days. Part Three). Seeing what God exposed, I understood that regardless of their caliber, people all want to hold a place in others’ hearts and don’t want to be looked down on by others. Even if I had a stuttering problem, I didn’t want people to look down on me. Because I didn’t speak clearly, when brothers and sisters asked me what I said during my fellowshipping, I thought they were looking down on me. This made me feel inferior, and I even became so negative that I no longer wanted to do my duty. I cared so much about losing face! Ever since my early years, receiving my parents’ nurture and my school’s education, the satanic poisons “People need their pride just as a tree needs its bark” and “A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies” had taken root in my heart. These made me mistakenly believe that people must protect their pride and not let others look down on them. When I interacted with unbelievers, they laughed at me because of my stuttering. In order to not be looked down on by others, I didn’t leave the house or speak up unless I had to. Even if I spoke, it would only be a couple phrases, or I would just smile and nod. If I started stuttering when interacting with brothers and sisters, I would speculate in my head, thinking, “What will they think of me? What will they say about me?” I always thought that everyone looked down on me, and I lived with great pain and suppression. When eating and drinking God’s words, I gained some comprehension and understanding, but I feared that I would stutter when fellowshipping and that the brothers and sisters would look down on me, so I didn’t fellowship. Also, showing no reason, I demanded that God get rid of my stuttering problem, and even used it as an excuse to not do my duty. When brothers and sisters had difficulties, I didn’t fellowship and help them resolve them; I hadn’t fulfilled the duties that a created being should do. I had no reason whatsoever; I was antagonizing and rebelling against God. Even if others thought highly of me, and I enjoyed a dazzling reputation, what would happen then? It wouldn’t bring change to my life disposition, and would only make me worry about how things affected my prestige and drive me further from God. In the end, God would spurn me and cast me out. Recognizing that protecting my pride would bring me such great harm, I no longer considered what the brothers and sisters thought of me. I only thought of how to do my duty well.

One day, I read a passage of God’s words. Almighty God says: “In some situations, there are problems you can’t overcome, such as easily feeling nervous when speaking to others. You may have your own ideas and viewpoints when faced with situations, but you are unable to express them clearly. You feel particularly nervous when many people are present; you speak incoherently and your mouth trembles. Some of you even stutter; for others, if there are members of the opposite sex present, you are even less able to articulate yourselves, simply not knowing what to say or what to do. Is such a situation easy to overcome? (No.) At least in the short term, it’s not easy for you to overcome this issue because it’s part of your innate condition. If after several months of practice you are still nervous, the nervousness turns into pressure, which negatively affects you by making you afraid to speak, meet people, attend gatherings, or give sermons, and these fears can defeat you; in such cases, you don’t have to attempt to overcome this difficulty. … Therefore, if you can’t overcome this issue in the short term, then don’t bother with it, don’t struggle against it, and don’t challenge yourself. Of course, though you cannot overcome it, you should not be negative. Even if you can never overcome it in your lifetime, God will not condemn you, for this is not a manifestation of your corrupt disposition. Your stage fright, your nervousness and fear, these manifestations do not reflect your corrupt disposition; whether they are innate or caused by the environment later in life, at most, they are a defect, a flaw of your humanity. If you cannot change it in the long term, or even in a lifetime, do not dwell on it, do not let it constrain you, nor should you become negative because of it, for this is not your corrupt disposition; there is no use in trying to change it or struggle against it. If you cannot change it, then accept it, let it exist, and treat it correctly, because you can coexist with this defect, this flaw; your having it does not affect your belief in God, your following God. As long as you can accept the truth, you can still live normally, still be saved; it does not affect your acceptance of the truth and does not affect your salvation. Therefore, you should not often be constrained by a certain defect or flaw in your humanity, nor should you often become negative and discouraged, or even give up your duty and give up pursuing the truth, missing the chance to be saved, for the same reason. It’s totally not worth it; that is what a foolish, ignorant person would do(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth II. How to Pursue the Truth (3)). I was just as what God’s words said. Throughout my life, due to my stuttering problem, I’d get anxious whenever I was around a lot of people, which would give rise to my stuttering. When people looked down on me, it hurt my self-esteem, and I wanted to change my stutter using my own means. But things didn’t go as I wished, which led to me becoming increasingly negative, and in the end I didn’t even want to do my duty. I even complained that God didn’t help me fix my stuttering problem. Now, I understood that my stutter is something I was born with, and I can’t overcome it just because I want to. Stuttering is not a cause for concern; it’s not a corrupt disposition and it doesn’t interfere with my pursuit of the truth. It’s only a shortcoming that I have, and it’s fine as long as I regard it correctly. If brothers and sisters don’t understand what I say and make a suggestion, I should face this calmly and say the words again or speak more slowly. My stuttering shouldn’t make me so negative that I don’t do my duty. In short, one doesn’t need to worry about their shortcomings. They should overcome them if they can, and if they can’t, they should face their problem calmly, continuing to fellowship and do their duty in the ways that they should. There’s no need to be constrained by stuttering. In the past, I wasn’t able to correctly regard my stuttering issue. I believed that my stutter meant that I was a good-for-nothing and a waste of space, that I couldn’t do my duty, and that God didn’t want a person like me. But all this time, the church never deprived me of my right to do my duty because of my stuttering. It was I who couldn’t correctly regard this shortcoming, always putting myself at odds with it. When I couldn’t overcome it, I became negative and complained. In fact, when I didn’t deliberately change my stutter and spoke a little more slowly, the brothers and sisters could understand me and I could do my duty normally. It wasn’t at all like I imagined, that I couldn’t do my duty because of my stutter. For my whole life, I had always been affected by my stuttering problem. My classmates laughed at me and my parents didn’t like me. All I got were cold shoulders and discrimination, and I lived with very low self-esteem. However, after I started believing in God, God used the brothers and sisters to help and encourage me, and used His words to guide me when I was negative and in pain, allowing me to emerge from this negativity. I now deeply understood from experience that it is God who loves man the most. But I’d always complained about and misunderstood God; I was so indebted to Him. Thinking of this, I came before God and prayed, “God! From Your words, I understand that having shortcomings is no cause for concern, nor does it mean that I can’t do my duty. I am willing to regard my shortcomings with a calm mentality, submit to Your orchestrations and arrangements, perform my duty well, and satisfy You.”

One day, during my spiritual devotion, I read two passages of God’s words: “People should let go of these notions and imaginings about God’s work. In terms of specifics, how should this be practiced? Do not pursue high gifts or talents, and do not pursue changing your own caliber or instincts, but rather, under your existing caliber, abilities, instincts, and so forth, do your duty according to God’s requirements, and do each thing according to what God asks. God does not demand what is beyond your abilities or caliber—you should not make things difficult yourself either. You should do your utmost based on what you know and what you can achieve, and practice according to what your own conditions allow(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth II. How to Pursue the Truth (3)). “If your humanity’s reason is normal, you should allow yourself to have defects and flaws; accepting them is to forgive yourself and also to give yourself a chance. Accepting them does not mean being constrained by them, nor does it mean often being negative because of them, but rather not being constrained by them, recognizing that you are just an ordinary member of corrupt humankind, with your own flaws and defects, nothing to boast of. It is God who lifts people up to do their duty; it is God who lifts people up, intending to work His word and life within them, to let them achieve salvation; it is God who lifts people up, intending to save people from Satan’s influence. Everyone has flaws and defects; you should allow your flaws and defects to coexist with yourself, not avoid them, not cover them up, and not often feel oppressed inside, or even always feel inferior. You are not inferior; if you can do your duty with all your heart, all your strength, and all your mind, to the best of your ability, and you have a sincere heart, then you are as precious as gold in the presence of God. If you cannot pay a price in doing your duty, and you lack loyalty, then even if you are better than the average person, you are not precious in the presence of God, you are not even worth a grain of sand(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth II. How to Pursue the Truth (3)). Reading God’s words, everything became clear. Each person has shortcomings and blemishes. Having a shortcoming isn’t a problem, and one should learn to let it go and regard it correctly. My stuttering problem was ordained by God, and I didn’t need to make things difficult for myself by always trying to change it. It was enough for me to have a pure and honest heart and put everything I have into doing my duty well. In the past, I was always afraid that if I stuttered when I spoke, the brothers and sisters would look down on me, and so I wanted to get rid of this stuttering problem. Now, I had to submit to God’s orchestrations and arrangements and correctly regard my shortcomings. I thought of a sister’s experience that I’d heard about before. She had a stuttering problem worse than mine, always stammering when she spoke, and it was tough to understand what she was saying. At the time, there was a church suffering arrests by the Communist Party, and all their work was at a standstill. The brothers and sisters didn’t dare to go there, but this sister stepped forward and volunteered to go and help support the church. Some people thought, “If she can’t even speak clearly, can she really support them?” However, this sister was not constrained by her stuttering. When she got to the church, she got the leader to brief her on the situation. She saw that all the brothers and sisters were living in timidness, and she fellowshipped with them one by one. Seeing that the sister didn’t speak too clearly, the leader took the initiative to join the fellowshipping. With this sister checking up on and supervising the work in detail, the leaders and workers developed a sense of burden, and the brothers and sisters began to do their duties normally. Even though this sister stuttered when she spoke, she wasn’t constrained by this and was able to produce results in her duty. I should be like this sister and do my duty with a sincere heart. This way, it would be easier to receive God’s guidance. After understanding this, I knew not to be afraid because I had shortcomings. What was important was facing them correctly and acting to the best of my abilities according to what I could achieve with my caliber.

Now, when I’m implementing work and fellowshipping with brothers and sisters to resolve their states, I’m no longer constrained by my stuttering. No matter whose problems I discover, I prune them when I should and fellowship to help them when appropriate. When fellowshipping, I find relevant words of God to resolve their problems based on my own experiences, fellowshipping whatever understanding I’ve gained from reading God’s words. Sometimes, I become anxious and I start to stutter, so I silently pray to God in my heart, asking Him to guide me to not be constrained by my pride. Then, I speak more slowly so that the brothers and sisters understand, and so I can implement the work clearly. When brothers and sisters notice that I have a stutter, they don’t look down on me like I imagined, and they even say they’ve found a bit of a path from my fellowship. Sometimes, when the upper-level leader checks up on my work and I get nervous and begin to stutter, I face this blemish calmly and my nervousness when speaking goes away.

For all these years, I was always plagued by my stuttering problem. I felt incredibly inferior and suppressed. Throughout this journey, I came to deeply understand that God doesn’t place importance on whether someone appears to be a good talker. What He wants is for us to have a pure and honest heart. No matter what shortcomings one has on the surface, as long as they can put their all into doing their duty, they are in line with God’s will. Just as God’s words say: “Everyone has flaws and defects; you should allow your flaws and defects to coexist with yourself, not avoid them, not cover them up, and not often feel oppressed inside, or even always feel inferior. You are not inferior; if you can do your duty with all your heart, all your strength, and all your mind, to the best of your ability, and you have a sincere heart, then you are as precious as gold in the presence of God(The Word, Vol. 6. On the Pursuit of the Truth II. How to Pursue the Truth (3)).

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