In the recent past, I stumbled upon a British stuttering support website, as I looked for possible ideas to overcome stuttering for my three-year-old son, who we discovered in the last few months had begun to stammer. On this website, some of the comments that were written by sufferers of the condition were extremely heartbreaking. Some sufferers said that they would rather die and that waking up every day and meeting people is torture.
You see, what is normal activity for a person, like breathing or swallowing, for a stammerer is so stressful and shameful that it changes his/her personality. The more you try not to or the more you think about it or the more people notice it or the more stressful the situation – the stammer gets impossibly worse.
This blog is mainly as an encouragement to those who stammer.
I have stammered from as far back as I can remember. I have been laughed at at school and my cousin once, when we were kids, called me a stammering monkey. (In return, I did call him a fatty!). Stammering controlled so much of my life that during my school days, I could go to school and not speak one word to anyone for a whole week. Not one word. It was easier and less painful to be quiet than to struggle to say something. You could never tell a joke because you always messed up the punchline. You could never tell a story because people stopped listening to the story as they were trying to either not laugh at you or pretend to ignore the elephant in the room. So you came off as an extremely serious, un-fun person and subsequently, was never invited for anything and lost most social contact. And slowly, for me, the fear of stuttering paralyzed my entire outlook.
But by the grace of God, I decided that I was not going to take this lying down. I decided to give my life completely to Jesus Christ and let Him lead it in a way that I could never begin to dream. I wanted to fight fire with fire and decided, of all things to become a speaker. At age 10, I gave my first sermon – of course, I stammered through it.
I studied at a Christian school (Clarence High, Bangalore, India) that had daily “assembly”. The entire school would gather for 15 minutes for a hymn and a small devotion. Once a year, the graduating class – the 10th grade – would conduct the assembly. When I was 15 and part of the graduating class, I was chosen as the speaker to give the devotion for the annual assembly.
25 years later – I have received one Doctorate and a Master's in India, and three Doctorates in the US in three different areas – dentistry, medicine, theology. Education in India is dependent on your score – nothing else. But in the US, personality has such a high value in addition to your score that interviews are done to screen out people like me that remained at the social fringes – never mind that my stammering forced me to those fringes. For several years now, Baltimore Magazine has listed me as a top Maxillofacial Surgeon in Maryland. In addition, I have a sermon podcast that so far been downloaded in 42 countries and a radio broadcast that reaches more than 65 countries every weekend.
I look back many times and wonder how on earth all this came about. How did this stammerer get anywhere? Am I trying to brag? Of course! I AM trying to brag. But not about me, but about the Lord Jesus who ‘is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory’. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
There is no cure for stammering. The only way to “solve” stammering is by learning how to deal with it. Nevertheless, thankfully, at the end of earthly time, the problem of the stammering monkey will be completely rectified: ‘The fearful heart will know and understand, and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear’. (Isaiah 32:4)