In Need of Speaking Opportunities

By Howard Bristol

My story begins over forty years ago.  I stuttered very badly and was receiving help from a speech therapist from LDS Family Services.  He was also a bishop.  His advice to me was to talk as much as possible in and with groups.  I was somewhat encouraged with my progress at the time.

Around the age of thirty I was ordained as a Seventy and set apart as a group leader.  In that position, I was able to conduct meetings and speak in and with groups as encouraged by my therapist.  I remember this incident very vividly.  I met with the group secretary to discuss matters pertaining to the function of the group.  He commented, “It would serve them right if they made you a president.  Then they would have to sit down and listen.”  Two weeks later, they set me apart as a president in the Seventy.

However, I was released a short time later.  I thought I was doing so well in my calling, and then suddenly, my opportunity was gone.  I couldn’t understand why I had been released.  I needed help and advice.  I went to my stake president and tried to explain my need for a speaking calling due to my therapist’s advice.  I said since I could not have that calling, could I please have a calling that would allow me to speak to and with a group.  He did not want to hear me.  With a violent hand and body gesture, he chased me out of his office.  I was paralyzed with fear.  I was very hurt, confused, and discouraged.  I felt abandoned.

Overtime my stuttering has gotten worse.  It has been such a nemesis to me.  Time marches on and it has taken a great deal of effort to forgive but I feel I have finally done it.  But my heart still holds the question, “What if?”

–Howard Bristol, Colorado

**How could someone like Howard  be nurtured in his struggle after all of these years?  What can leaders and members do to be more sensitive to situations like his?

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