“The Talk,” Liahona, Apr. 2001, 14
“Time to get up,” Mom called cheerfully.
I rolled over and pretended I didn’t hear her. That’s what I do when I don’t want to get up.
Mom didn’t give up. “Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes,” she called. “Anyone who wants to eat had better hurry.”
That got my brother going. “Come on,” Devon said, giving my bed a shake.
“I’m not hungry,” I muttered.
“Suit yourself.” He headed for the kitchen.
It was true. I wasn’t hungry. In fact, my stomach kind of ached. Maybe I should tell Mom I’m sick, I thought. That’s it—I’m sick and need to stay home.
A few minutes later I got my chance.
“Devon says you’re not hungry.” Mom sat down on the edge of my bed. “Are you feeling all right?” She put her hand on my forehead. “You don’t feel hot.”
“I’m not sick,” I answered truthfully, “but I don’t feel so good.”
At first Mom looked puzzled, then she understood. “Are you nervous about your talk?”
“I’m not just nervous,” I said. “I was nervous last night when I went to bed. Then I dreamed that when I got up to give my talk I couldn’t find my notes, and I couldn’t remember anything. It was awful!”
Mom shook her head. “I’m sorry you had a bad dream, but it was just a dream. You’re going to do fine.”
“Can’t we say I’m sick?” I asked. But I knew Mom would never go for that.
“Come have some breakfast,” she said, pulling the blankets off me. “You’ll feel better.”
I knew the only thing that was going to make me feel better was telling the Primary president I was too sick to give a talk. Mary Kay could give two talks. She gives talks all the time. She even enjoys giving talks. I started to say something, but Mom gave me one of those “don’t even try it” looks.
“Good morning,” Dad said happily as I slumped into my chair.
“Morning,” I grumbled. I couldn’t bring myself to call it a good morning.
Dad looked at me quizzically.
“Jeremy’s a bit worried about his talk,” Mom explained.
“I see,” Dad said. “Is there anything I can do to help? I’d be happy to listen if you want to practice before we go to church.”
I shook my head. Practicing my talk in front of my dad wouldn’t help. I ate a little before I asked to be excused.
“We’re really proud of you, you know,” Mom said as I rinsed my plate. “I wouldn’t have guessed that you would be the first one in our family to speak in church.”
“I’m sure we’ll all get a turn eventually,” Dad said with a smile.
“What do you mean?” Devon asked anxiously.
“Just that speaking in church is something Latter-day Saints do,” Dad replied. “We don’t have a pastor who gives a sermon every week like we used to. The members take turns giving talks instead.”
Devon shook his head. “I don’t ever want to give a talk.” He looked at me. “Who said you had to give a talk?”
“Nobody did. My teacher asked our class who wanted to give talks. Two of us raised our hands,” I explained.
“You mean you volunteered?” Devon was shocked.
I shrugged my shoulders. “It seemed like a good idea at the time. Now I wish I’d kept quiet.”
Mom squeezed my shoulder. “You’re going to do great. Now go get dressed for church.”
Some time later I hurried to find Dad. “Dad, will you tie my tie? I’ve tried three times, and I still can’t get it right.”
“I’d be happy to.” He wrapped my tie around his neck and tied a perfect knot. My tie looked pretty funny on him. It was way too short. He slid the tie up over his head, then pulled it down over mine.
“Thanks,” I said. I pulled my talk out of my shirt pocket and started to read through it for the zillionth time.
I sat through sacrament meeting, quietly reading my notes over and over. It wasn’t until I saw Mary Kay watching me that I put them back into my pocket.
When I reached the Primary room, I walked up to the chairs at the front of the room. On the way, I stopped at the podium to make sure I was tall enough to see over it without standing on the stool the little kids use.
As I looked out over the podium, I saw my mom and dad sitting in the back of the room. I hadn’t asked them to come, but I wasn’t surprised to see them. What did surprise me was that Devon was with them. He was missing Sunday School to hear me talk! I wasn’t sure if I was pleased or not.
Mary Kay sat down next to me. “Are you nervous?” she asked.
I tried to look calm. “Are you?” I asked.
She nodded. “I’ve given lots of talks, but I still get nervous.” She held out her hands to show me that they were shaking.
“Then why do you volunteer?” I asked.
Mary Kay shrugged. “I think talking in church is a good thing to do. I think it’s important to tell people what you believe. Don’t you?”
“I guess so,” I said. “I’ve never given a talk before.”
Mary Kay looked shocked. “Really?”
“In my old church, the pastor did all the preaching,” I explained.
“It’s all right, once you get going,” Mary Kay said with a smile.
Primary started, so we stopped talking. I felt surprisingly calm. Somehow, knowing that Mary Kay got nervous when she gave a talk made me feel better.
After the opening song and prayer, the Primary president announced that Mary Kay and I would be giving talks. Mary Kay went first. I had a hard time listening to her talk. I kept going over my talk in my mind. I was startled when I heard her say, “Amen.”
“Good luck,” she whispered as I passed her on my way to the podium.
I pulled the notes out of my pocket and began.
“This is the first time I’ve given a talk in church,” I began. “In fact, it’s the first time anyone in my family has given a talk in church.” I looked at my family. They were all smiling at me.
I went on to tell of all the ways my life had changed since we were baptized. I talked about reading the Book of Mormon. I told about when the missionaries taught my family.
Then I talked about learning to pray, how glad I was when I learned that Heavenly Father wants us to pray, and how I knew that He listens to and answers our prayers.
I was almost finished when I realized my notes were still clenched tightly in my hand. I hadn’t even needed them! I thanked my parents and Devon for joining the Church with me and told them I loved them. That part wasn’t even in my notes. Then I ended my talk, “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
As I sat down, I was filled with relief and joy.
“You did great!” Mary Kay whispered.
“Thanks,” I said, blushing slightly.
I looked back at my family. Devon and Dad smiled. Mom had tears running down her cheeks. I could tell they were happy tears.
When singing time began, I watched my family slip quietly out the back door to go to their classes. It was then I decided that the next time it was my class’s turn to give talks, I would volunteer again.