I was an extremely shy girl. I was just beginning to learn to talk to people. I was barely eighteen years old, and already a university student. My friends were my books, but I was determined to stop being so shy. I was at a Christian university, and I knew Christians were kind. I told myself I could talk to them because Christians were kind. I pulled courage from way down deep inside of myself and was learning to carry on conversations. My voice was so small. My natural voice sounded like a whisper.
I had a friend from high school down the hallway, and she was rooming with some girls from Moore, Oklahoma. There were other students in the dorm from Moore too, and boys from Moore who lived in the boys' dorm. We made a group, and we met together for every meal. For someone like me, it gave me security. My family had moved around from place to place all the time I was growing up. I had always heard from my dad, "Children are to be seen and not heard." My mother was extremely critical, and my older sister thought she was too good to have anything to do with me. I just had not learned to have a conversation with anyone. When I went to church in high school, I fell in love with Christians because they were kind and they spoke to me, but I was still shy. I had heard about this Christian university at church, and since my dad insisted I needed to go to college, I went where I knew the people were good and kind. These students from Moore were all kind to me, and I needed the security of a friendly, happy group to eat my meals with and hang out with.
They told me they were going to visit with someone to get some information about something, but I really didn't know what they were doing. However, I went with them. We all sat in the floor of one of the married students' apartment as the guy who lived there talked about Sonlight Company and his goals. He talked about how they put on plays with Christian messages. He said that it was about acting, but more than anything, the people in the group had to be committed Christians. The plays were a way of teaching people about God. When young people would not listen to preachers, he said they would listen to plays. It was an interesting concept, however, my new friends from Moore and my friend from high school may be interested in doing it, but as for me, I knew I wasn't an actress. The idea had never even crossed my mind to act. I couldn't imagine standing in front of anyone doing anything. After he talked a long time, we left, and he made a time for try outs for Sonlight Company.
When the time came, I went to watch my friends try out. Each one of them had prepared some short play or portion of a play they had learned from high school. I sat up in the back of the auditorium watching the proceedings. It was fun to watch their short plays. They went one by one to put on their play, and there was a group of people there judging their performances. Finally, the married student whose apartment we had gone to seemed to be a kind of director, and he came to me and asked me to try out. I said, "I'm not an actress. I am not here to try out. I just came to watch my friends." He kept urging me to try, but I had no intentions to try. He kept telling me he thought they needed me. He handed me a Bible and asked me to read a verse out loud. I cooperated. I was still sitting in my seat in the back of the auditorium, and I read the verse to him. He said, "Okay! You are in!"
I was completely shocked! I didn't realize that reading a verse was trying out. I thought, "Well, he must have liked the way I read it." I told him I didn't know how to act, but he said it was okay because he was going to teach me. I realized that these plays were a good idea, that young people would listen to teachings about God by watching these plays when they wouldn't listen to a preacher. I realized it was something good, so I decided to agree if he thought he could take a shy little girl and teach her to act.
The first play they put me in, I had no lines. I just did exactly what I was told to do. The play was called "Collection." There was a row of four people, and I was the last person. They were passing the collection plate. Each one did things like dropped coins noisily in making sure everyone heard them, fanned several dollar bills out that he made sure everyone saw putting them in the plate one at a time, and then writing a check trying to advertise it so others would see how much they gave. As for me, I was supposed to have nothing. However, they gave me a necklace that looked like an heir loom. After the others showed off all their wealth and were showing what "good" Christians they were by giving so much money, they were supposed to hand the tray to me, but I had nothing. The director told me to move very slowly, and to look unsure about what I was doing. He told me even when to bow my head. I was supposed to realize I had the necklace on, put the tray in my lap, and then slowly take the necklace off, clasping it in my hands, and slowly put it in the tray. All this time, the others were supposed to be shocked at what I was doing. After I put the necklace in the tray, the director said, "That was so good!" He said to someone next to him," She has such a wonderful talent for making people feel sorry for her." As far as I know, I hadn't done anything except just what he told me to do. I had no idea what I was doing except following his directions to a T.
I was so relieved in the first performances that I had no lines! Slowly, the director worked me into a speaking part. Eventually, he even worked me into parts where I had to scream for help, scream at someone, or even hit on a guy. My personality was slowly being pulled out of me. I was taught how to speak from my stomach so people could hear me. I was taught everything I needed to do these plays, and in doing these plays, I learned how people expressed themselves. I had never had a chance to every express myself before because I was raised to be completely quiet. I was scared, but I l pushed myself because I knew it was something good. If they had been regular plays, I couldn't have done it, but I was doing it for God, and I was blessed with the ability to communicate because I was doing it for God. My personality completely changed. I stayed with the group all through college, Toward the end, I became the director. We were sponsored by a church, and they gave us a nice luxury van to travel in and paid for our meals. We traveled to churches, schools, banquets, etc. over a five state area, and my life was changed forever. My personality was changed forever.
I became a teacher. When I first walked into the classroom, I didn't feel like a teacher and didn't quite know how to go about doing what I was supposed to do. Then, I realized that I had seen teachers all my life and that I know how to act. I got up there and acted like a teacher, and I became a teacher. I had a career as a university professor, and it was made possible because someone asked me to read a scripture and basically drafted me into an acting troupe. It changed me completely. I was no longer the quiet, shy little girl who didn't know how to talk. At one point, when I was in the acting troupe, we were in a high school, and they told me there were 5,000 students in the audience. In my career as a professor, I became a speaker at big conventions, and I stood up there by myself and spoke in front of five thousand people in a convention hall. I had come a long, long way because I was willing to do something good for God.