Guest Post- Elizabeth Tomaszewski – Courage, Dear Heart

Elizabeth Tomaszewski  competed in Speech and Debate for five years! She didn’t break until her third year- her junior year in high school. Her senior year she broke in LD for the first time. She ended up bringing six speeches and LD to Regionals (Iron Man), qualifying to The NCFCA National Championship in Impromtu and Apologetics. She was the 2013 Region Six Apologetics Champion.

Elizabeth states, “for two years I competed without breaking, but my mom encouraged me to keep trying and I knew I still had a lot to learn. My biggest challenge was being comfortable in my rounds. If I forgot a line- I stood there until I remembered it. I used to think public speaking was being able to deliver a speech perfectly from memory, now I know it is sharing a message. My advice to younger competitors is to enjoy your speeches. You are sharing a message with people about something you care about. Put the competition away for a minute and focus on why you are giving this speech. There is more to public speaking than first place. Believe me, I’ve been there.”

Below is Elizabeth’s encouragement to competitors struggling to break and who want to throw in the towel….

In a world where nightmares came true, Lucy Pevensie chose to pray. In C. S. Lewis book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader she whispers, “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.” And he does, in a ball of light and a kind whisper, “Courage, dear heart.”… And all at once everybody realized that there was nothing to be afraid of and never had been.

It is safe to say that our culture provokes fear into the heart of people. In my experience hope is lost amidst the battle of ideas and the terrors that face us. From bees to trafficking, hate-speech to terrorism there is a never ending list of things in this world that invoke fear. The easiest answer is to run and ignore it, but our troubles are surmounting and they will not go away. We need to know- In a world where hope grows dim it is our responsibility to be bold. We will focus our attention to 2 Timothy 1:7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (ESV).”

How do we define fear?
In one sense of the word fear can be considered reverence or terror, the greek word Phobeo is used in 2 peter 2:17 and Romans 8:15 we are called to fear God and not fall into fear. However 2 timothy 1:17 is referring to a different type of fear, deilia cowardice or timidity. Paul is writing second timothy to a young pastor he is mentoring. Persecution has begun and Paul is in chains. Timothy is scared. Paul reminds him of his faith, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure dwells in you as well.” He encourages Timothy to be bold, and he rebukes him saying God did not give us a spirit of fear! That feeling of cowardice of timidity is not from God, I’m not going to tell you where it came from but it didn’t come from God. Let me remind you, the spirit Christ gave to us when he departed from this earth is one of power, a spirit of love, and a spirit of self-control. Have courage, dear heart.

We have a spirit of Power
As Christians we are filled with the Holy Spirit. We have the essence of God influencing us, indwelling us, and counseling our lives. This spirit of power can be thought of as power of God’s ability. Four summers in a row I attended a week long camp called, Worldview Academy. It combines worldview lessons with great small group and active games. Midway through the week we spend an afternoon evangelizing. They handed out tracts and encouraged us to talk with people on the streets by asking them questions. I was terrified. My mother had always taught me not to talk to strangers and I chose this moment to listen to her. When God was asking me to be a witness I kept my mouth shut in fear. The first two summers I listened. I observed to the other people in my group and acted as moral support with my presence only.

The next year something changed, I changed. I started studying Apologetics with NCFCA. I was practicing speaking in front of strangers. I shared God’s love with them in my various speech events, I was practicing for life. That summer I was the spokesperson, approaching people on the streets of Libertyville. I was asking and answering their questions, and was encouraged by the conversation. I learned that people can see the sincerity of your heart when you truly look at them. They can see the Holy Spirit filling you with courage and with life. NCFCA wasn’t just for the competition, or the friends, but for the life practice. I am still reaping the benefits.

Boldness is a calling of Christ
I want to encourage you to be bold. Things in this life don’t come easy, they won’t be perfect, but we have God on our side. It is in the spirit of self-discipline that we are reminded, Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, be the example. 2 Timothy 4 calls us to be prepared, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” As does 2 Peter 3:15 “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” We need to practice speaking for truth so that we are ready for what Gods wants us to do. Whether it is sharing the gospel, Influencing the political realm, or managing a godly business communication is part of our calling.

When faced with fear, stand firm. Your experiences during this season are a gift preparing you for anything the Lord asks of you. It won’t be easy but it will always be worth it. When faced with the drowning torrents of fear remember Christ’s encouragement to be bold. “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” Courage, dear heart.