Friday, August 4, 2017

Shy Is Okay

I've always struggled with self image....physically and socially.  I use to be way too concerned about what people thought of me.  My self image and worth were always in question.  Did I offend them?  Will they forgive me?  Did I hurt their feelings?  Why didn't they reply?  Why wasn't I invited?  As a child, I was painfully shy.  It has taken and still takes work and intentionality on my part to work through that.  When I started writing this post, I though I would never say I have overcome it; but then I looked up the definition of "overcome".
  1. succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty).

    "she worked hard to overcome her paralyzing shyness"
    synonyms:get the better of, prevail over, control, get/bring under control, masterconquerdefeatbeatMore
    • defeat (an opponent); prevail.

      "without firing a shot they overcame the guards"
      synonyms:defeatbeatconquertrouncethrashroutvanquishoverwhelmoverpower, get the better of, triumph over, prevail over, win over/against, outdooutclassworstcrush;More
    • (of an emotion) overpower or overwhelm.

      "she was obviously overcome with excitement"
      synonyms:overwhelmed, emotional, moved, affectedspeechless
      "I was overcome"

I have "overcome" it as far as gaining some control and addressing it.  I'll never defeat it, and as I've gotten older; I realize I don't need to.  It's part of who I am.  Being shy use to be considered as a negative attribute and honestly it still is by many.  I remember always feeling less because of it.  Over the last few years, I've started believing it's not negative unless you allow it to be...just like most things.  There were times when my shyness would have caused me to miss out on something I really wanted to be part of which was my main motivator for addressing it.  In the past, some thought I was rude or unsocial as well.  This made things even more challenging.
It wasn't until I was well into my forties that I realized being shy shouldn't be considered something negative.  One of my daughters is painfully shy, just like I was as a child.  I could never get her to try much of anything new or step outside her comfort zone.  She also suffers from sever anxiety, something I never knew much about until recent years.  Even now it's difficult for her.  I always wanted for her to not feel the things I had felt for being so shy.  I wanted her to know she was not less because of it.  For summers as long as I can remember, she has attended a summer day camp with one of her best friends.  She LOVED it and looked forward to it every summer.  In fact, she works there now.  One of the things they do during the week is give the kids a bible verse to memorize.  The goal is for the campers to recite it on Friday.  One day many summers ago, I was helping her memorize the verse:
Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; our works are wonderful.  I know that full well.
Each day as she recited it, I corrected and encouraged; but I didn't really listen to the words until years later.  I had heard that verse a ton of times previously, but I didn't really listen.  One day I asked all of my kids what their favorite verse was. Without hesitation, she recited it to me perfectly.  This time I really listened to the words, and I immediately know why she had chosen that scripture.  Those words meant more to her than a treat for memorizing a verse at the end of camp.  They described her to Her Father.  They validated her as a person.  They told her that it was okay to be shy.  They meant she was loved as a shy, anxious little girl.  She had understood that verse better than I had.
A few weeks ago, she was working at camp and was assigned to assist the nurse.  A very shy child came into the nurse's office one day who wasn't feeling well.  The nurse was busy, so she asked my daughter to call the little girl's mom.  When she was talking to the mom, the mom told her that her daughter was very shy and suffered from anxiety and stress (this sweet little bitty girl).  It sometimes manifested itself as illness.  My girl knew immediately what she meant and could relate to this little lady so well.  She hung up with the mom and approached the child.  She began telling her all about herself and her own struggle with shyness, stress and anxiety.  The little girl listened carefully and then began to engage in conversation with my girl....something that had not happened when she first came in.  When she was telling me about this later in the day, I knew (and so did she) that was a God moment.  God knew that my girl could offer comfort and encouragement to this child....HIS CHILD! One of the ways He used her shyness for good.   One of the ways that she was able to help someone else know that she was fearfully and wonderfully made.  One of the ways that He could reiterate again that she was enough.  One of the ways that she could share His love and adoration with someone else. He knows what He's doing, doesn't He?  He doesn't make mistakes.  I love it when He orchestrates situations, so we can see Him at work.

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