By: Hubert Zanczak, Senior
Last spring, I had an opportunity to speak at TEDx North Central College. I remember seeing the emails and FB posts about TEDx and I always thought, oh that’s neat. Once or twice I even thought about how cool it would be to share something. I looked into the details of applying and pulled up the online application and knew I was ready to apply. Except I didn’t have a clue about what I would share. I thought to myself, Hubert, you are quirky and love puns; you like to talk to people but really you don’t have any earth shattering wisdom within you. You don’t have a nugget of truth which will challenge people and inspire them to be an agent of change. So with those uplifting thoughts about myself, I gave up.
A couple of weeks went by, and I noticed in my calendar that the deadline for applying to speak was quickly approching. I again dismissed the idea, with more ease and less contemplation, this time around. Then, just a few hours later I got an email:
I just wanted to reach out to you in terms of the TEDx speaker application…
Okay, a little freaked out I read the email – a personal invitation to consider applying to speak. At this point, I gave this a serious thought. It’s quite amazing what a personal invitation can do—and by that, two ideas came to me about what I wanted to share. Honestly, I think I get beaten up and knocked down by my anxiety and the thoughts I’ve described often serve as a left-right punch straight into myself.
Now, don’t get me wrong—sometimes I just am an awkward quirky guy—but, more often than not, I let social anxieties get the best of me. Except, this time I chose to not let those anxieties win. I finished the application, clicked submit, and shut my laptop with my favorite Bernie ’16 sticker facing me.
Fast forward now one month, and I am walking over to TEDx North Central College rehearsal at 2 pm on Friday, April 29. What did I get myself into? Is it too late to change my mind? Maybe if I jump in front of this slowly moving Toyota Corolla, I will be able to skip tonight and maybe get some windfall to pay off my tuition and my El Tap burrito tab… I think the driver heard my inner thoughts as he came to a full stop to let me safely walk in front of him. Well, I guess it’s happening, I affirmed myself.
Rehearsal went awful. I forgot my talk, I didn’t try it out with a mic, and I stuttered, causing me to pause and lose all confidence. This is going to be a long night. I went home, showered, put on some Mumford & Sons on blast, practiced my talk twice, buttoned up my shirt, laced my shoes, and got some Starbucks—I mean I earned it right?
Game time. A group of us decide to pray before the event—as my friends and I invited anyone who wanted to join us. One of the main adult speakers chimed in for a prayer of thankfulness that there are students willing to pray in public as “unapologetically Christian”.
This line struck me all the way down to my soul and from there on the night went smoothly. I didn’t even need my Starbucks, and I pressed on delivering my talk (you can watch below). Standing behind the curtain, I thanked my Heavenly Father for this opportunity and for His courage placed in me. But one thing I still couldn’t shake off was this line, “unapologetically Christian”.
Two things I took away from my TEDx experience:
1) God doesn’t give up or take my “no” for an answer
2) We don’t need to be apologetic about our faith
The first point is one I continue to learn about and see all over my life. I am not talking about free will or other theological queries; rather, I am just telling you friends, our God is mighty and He loves us. He also knows what is ultimately best for us, and He hates to see us pass up on things that He has called us to—even in our inadequacy He sees us as enough. He also does not let the enemy claim victory over us. Those thoughts of inadequacy above—that’s the enemy’s playbook. But if we are tuned in to His frequency, He will speak to you. God speaks—directly or indirectly. I got a personal invite from my good friend Sam Neahring. I doubt she knew this, but God was using her to send a message—literally—of encouragement. This is what living with God and in community means. We all act as little extensions of God, loving onto one another, so that His will can be done.
“Unapologetically Christian”—I have a love/hate relationship with this line. I love it because it’s bold. I hate it because we live in times when faith is not “politically correct” or respectful and to be unapologetic is to be bold. It calls me outside of what’s comfortable as I am too often apologetic about bringing God into my secular conversations. And yet, through the TEDx process I saw God wanted to teach me a lesson—the whole event, for me, became less about what I had to say to others and more about what God was trying to say to me.
And, I’m glad that through all of it, He brought me to the platform where I took a breath and heard Him speak.