“How long have you had this problem?” The speech therapist assesses his new client, a meticulously dressed man shifting uncomfortably on the high-backed sofa.
“I’ve always been this way!” The man shoots back angrily, avoiding the therapist’s gaze.
“I doubt that.” The therapist’s voice is steady. “No infant is born with a stammer.”*
This is no ordinary client. The sullen gentleman on the sofa is Prince Albert, son of the king of England. No one could predict that the prince, terrified of speaking publicly because of a debilitating speech defect, would soon be called upon to comfort millions with his voice.
Over several months of sessions with speech therapist Lionel Logue, a picture slowly emerges of Prince Albert’s painful childhood. A demanding father accepted nothing less than perfection, bellowing at “Bertie” to “just spit it out!” when he stumbled over his words. His older brother mercilessly mocked “B-B-Bertie” for his nervous stammer all through their childhood and into their adult years.
The monarch’s disparaging criticism continues to rule Prince Albert even after his father’s death. During one scene in the film “The King’s Speech” (2010), his therapist Logue reminds the prince that his father is gone now.
“He’s on that coin I just gave you,” Albert grumbles.
“But you don’t have to carry him around in your pocket anymore,” the therapist counters gently.
Gradually, the prince releases his fears of being a failure and the disappointment of not living up to his father’s expectations. He discovers that he has a voice of his own and a right to be heard.
“With God’s Help…”
When Prince Albert is crowned king of England, he faces the greatest test of his life – a live radio broadcast of his first wartime speech in 1939. Carefully forming each word, with his therapist and friend Lionel Logue beside him for support, the king delivers a powerful speech that marks the beginning of England’s engagement in World War II. Carried on “the wireless” around the world, the king’s voice unites his subjects and their global allies in a time of uncertainty and crisis, reassuring them that “with God’s help, we shall prevail.”
Like Prince Albert, are you paralyzed by painful memories, or living under the disappointment of unmet expectations, and are you ruled by the unrealistic demands of others? You can choose to reject the false labels others pin on you. You are not a failure or a disappointment to your Creator! He has given you a voice. So step forth in confidence to do what He’s called you to do!
“You shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 1: 7-8(NRSV)
*From the film “The King’s Speech,” Directed by Tom Hooper, 2010.