The following video is just a very short clip from a skit performed tonight during our youth revival at church. Pay close attention to the blond-haired girl in the gray shirt in the third scene. Then read the rest of this post. It will have you believing in miracles, too.
This girl is speaking in front of a crowd for the first time in her life. She is my (almost) 17 year old daughter, Shelbi. What, you're probably wondering, is so special about a 17 year old speaking in public? And what, if anything, would it have to do with believing in miracles? Well, what if I told you this child spent the first 14 years of her life struggling with Selective Mutism? What if I told you she had NEVER spoken ONE word to a stranger during those 14 years? What if I told you she overcame this anxiety disorder, not with medication, not with hypnotherapy, but with the help of our Lord and Savior?!
Everyone said Shelbi was just shy when people would talk to her and get no response. As her mom, I felt like it was a little deeper than mere shyness. When she turned three we enrolled her in pre-school hoping she would come out of her shell. At this time, Shelbi would mostly talk to her daddy, me, her sisters, grandmothers, one of her aunts, and a few cousins. The only people she talked to outside of our immediate family were my friend, Cristi, and her little boys, Mark and Joshua. Cristi would babysit for me occasionally and Shelbi and Josh are the same age. She attended two years of pre-school-- a small, private, church-run school and never talked to the other children. She started public school in kindergarten and spoke not a word to anyone, including the teacher. During kindergarten, the school psychologist told me that she suspected Shelbi had Selective Mutism. SM is an anxiety disorder characterized by the person's inability to speak in certain situations or to certain people. This is not a physical condition, the person is ABLE to talk, but is a type of stress disorder. There are varying degrees of SM. Some sufferers ONLY talk to family, while others, like Shelbi, slowly make friends. Some are also so severely affected that they can not socialize at all. Shelbi played t-ball, participated at recess, PE, church, just not verbally. She was never ostracized by others. Treatment varies, but usually is some mix of behavioral therapy, counseling, and medication. When Shelbi started second grade, her pediatrician asked us if we wanted to try giving her Prozac. I am NOT against necessary medication, but Larry and I prayed about it and did not feel comfortable putting our seven year old daughter on an anti-depressant. Our doctor, a Christian himself, respected our decision. A few weeks later, Shelbi started talking to FOUR classmates and another cousin. I felt God was letting us know we'd made the right decision for her. The next year she made a few more friends. She was comfortable and confident with herself, an honor roll student, and now playing softball and basketball competitively. I believed without a doubt that God would deliver her from the fear of speaking, but wondered how long we would have to wait. Waiting upon the Lord is harder than it sounds. :) Between third grade and eighth, Shelbi made only one new friend and still wasn't talking to teachers, most of our adult family members, or our church family. High school was approaching and MY anxiety was rising. I wanted desperately for Shelbi to be freed once and for all from this disorder. She was SO bright and funny at home-- such a lovable and likable kid--it killed me that other people couldn't get to know her as we did.
Shelbi received Christ as her Savior several years ago and she was praying about this. Our entire church, especially Shelbi's youth group, had been praying for her. One Sunday morning, ten days before Shelbi would start ninth grade, our pastor announced that God was leading him to have a special prayer service instead of a sermon. Larry, Shelbi, and I went to the altar to pray with Bro. Todd for our other daughter who was in the hospital. Larry then asked Todd to pray with us for Shelbi to be delivered from SM. THAT VERY NIGHT, SHELBI SPOKE TO A STRANGER FOR THE FIRST TIME! It was only telling the lady behind the counter at the bowling alley what size shoes she needed, but what a response to prayer!! Don't you love it when God answers in a way that can NOT be explained as anything but HIM?! I can't begin to tell you, and you can't begin to imagine, how much that one word meant! Shelbi said God had given her the boldness to talk to the lady and that it was easier to talk to strangers than people that had been "begging" her to for years. I think I must be the ONLY mom in the history of the world to excitedly tell her child, "Please, baby, talk to strangers!" while thinking, "Talk to anyone!" LOL
Well, if you want to watch the video again and see the miracle with a different perspective, feel free! I know I will!
THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, SHE'S FREE AT LAST!!!!!!!