As a child growing up, I knew very little about myself. Yet, one word that seemed to roll off of people’s tongues when asked to describe me in my early stages was “shy.” So I started calling myself that too.
In seventh grade, I was asked to choose four words to describe myself as part of an assignment. “Shy” was one of the familiar words I decided to use. On the day of my presentation, I carefully rested my brightly-coloured cardboard on the chalkboard behind me. A couple of kids in the front started snickering when they saw my board complete with the four words I had chosen. After my initial hesitancy in response to teacher’s request that I begin my presentation, one amused kid spoke up: “Come on, don’t be shy.” Hearing his taunt only made me more nervous, and I cowered in front like a mouse whose hiding spot had been exposed.
Over the years, my struggle with feelings of shyness was the running theme of my life. It even led to a growing resentment of my quiet and reserved nature (something that I still have trouble embracing), so that I would grow defensive when anyone made a remark about it. Now, fast forward to my young adult years, and I have come to a point where I have truly been able to detect the root of my shyness. It was fear. Fear of saying and doing the wrong things. Fear of being accepted. Fear of being hated and rejected.
Even as the Lord was clearly revealing to me His plans for me (being accepted into journalism school), I still had trouble coming out of my shell and stepping into the spotlight. Once when interning for a campus newspaper, upon hearing my plans to pursue journalism, one of my fellow interns smirked at my comment: “How are you going to do that if you are so shy?”
Sometimes our fears can get the best of us. As believers, we have to ask Christ to remove any and all barriers that keep us from spreading the gospel to others. That’s why Christ’s words in Matthew 5:16 are so personal for those dealing with shyness. He knew that this would be an issue for most of us (yes, even extroverts) and that’s why He tells us not to hide our light, but instead make sure that it is clearly seen (verse 16)!
We have no need to feel inferior or afraid of mortal flesh. Christ died on the cross for all, which frees you from the opinions and judgments of others. Remember that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” — quirks and all! If the daily struggle with shyness is real for you, learn how you can overcome the fear that holds you back from walking boldly into the plans God has for you.