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?