I used to be shy. For those that know me as outgoing and loud, I know that may be hard to believe. In fact, I was extremely, uncomfortably, awkwardly shy. Just ask my Mom. She had to put up with my early childhood years coaxing me to find my voice.
How shy you might ask?
Well let me tell you.
You know how back in the day when you went to McDonald’s and when it came time to get a refill on your soda, you actually had to go up to the counter to ask the McDonald’s employee for refill? Well the whole reason that they started using those self-refill stations was probably because too many McDonald’s workers had to deal with me.
When I was around 10 years old and needed a refill I would ask my Mom to go do it for me because I was too painfully shy to go ask for it myself. After one too many trips to get refills for me, my Mom naturally trying to teach me independence and responsibility would say, “You can do it yourself.” This would result in the flood work of tears. I was torn, I really wanted my refill, but it was beyond terrifying for me to make the long walk up to the counter by myself, let alone utter any words to a complete stranger. Many times I would just give in to my thirst and let it be. I resolved that I could live the rest of my life quiet and parched.
By the age of 12, the shyness didn’t go away, but in fact it got progressively worse. My teachers had to pull my Mom aside and inform her that her daughter when asked to get up in front of the class to give a presentation would completely shut down. There were even times that I didn’t complete assignments if they involved me getting up in front of the classroom. They informed my Mom that if I was ever going to be successful academically that she would need to do something immediately.
Do you want to know my Mom’s response? Well, Mary enrolled me in acting classes at our local community theater! Acting classes Mom?! Really?! I can’t even get up in front of the class without having a heart attack and now you want me to get on a stage…in front of people…and pretend to act?!
But my Mom was on to something, she knew at the time what I didn’t that I was lacking confidence in myself and my voice. I survived the acting classes and slowly began to actually…enjoy them. I became aware of my presence and body movements on stage as well as learned to take risks in making a fool of myself by committing to a character. I wish I could say I was a success over night and that all of my shyness went away after the acting classes. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. When it came time to do the monologue portion at the end of the course I pleaded, begged, and cried for my Mom not to make me go and I even offered to pay for the class that I would miss. I ended up not going. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but it was a formative moment. I promised myself after that moment that I was going to try my hardest from then on and trust in God to help me through it. The acting classes helped to move me in a direction of gaining confidence in myself and trusting in God’s strength outside of my own abilities.
That same year, I continued acting classes and even tried out for a play and got the lead role. After that the rest was history. I went on to performing in a dozen other plays throughout high school and even in college to make a mini-career out of it.
Why do I tell my story about being painfully shy? Well to thank my Mom for challenging me, but to tell a story of overcoming challenges in life. God uses the weak to do great work to show that He is strong. Those areas of our life that are deemed weak are really opportunities for us to trust in God to use his strength to do His work in our lives. If we were able to do everything perfectly, then we could take credit for our strengths and abilities and we wouldn’t need to trust in God nor give Him any glory.
Those who know me now would have never guessed that I was that painfully shy girl because God has used my weakness and turned it into one of my greatest strengths. I enjoy public speaking and have been given opportunities to use this strength to inspire and motivate people in their relationship with God. I went from not being able to ask for a refill at McDonald’s to have had multiple opportunities to speak in front of crowds of thousands.
Those areas in your life that you don’t feel confident, competent, or strong in are the areas that God is using to help you overcome and to push you to trust and rely on Him, so don’t shy away from allowing God to use you in your weaknesses.
‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:9-10
What challenges or weaknesses do you have in your life that you need to trust in God to help you overcome?