The Pleasures and Problems of Living with Shyness

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   For most of those who know me, you probably see me as extremely quiet or if you know me really well, a crazy girl who was once quiet. For those of you who met me in my "outgoing self", you probably don't believe that I really am shy, and I thank God for those moments of an amazing first impression! However, in reality, shyness is an issue that I deal with daily.

But is shyness a problem? 

  As a whole, shyness is not a sin. In fact, in God's Word, the beauty of having a quiet, gentle spirit is emphasized.

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3-4

   Not only does God see huge worth when we choose to live with quietness & gentleness, but He desires for our lives to be lived with a heart focused on true beauty, a beauty not found in clothes, trends, and physical characteristics, but a life lived for Jesus and thus an inner self that is truly beautiful.

    You may be asking, "So just because I'm a naturally outgoing person, does that mean I'm not considered beautiful in God's sight?" The answer to that is NO, NO, NO! I'm definitely not trying to say that shyness is inner beauty, but true beauty is living for Jesus, a heart slowly transformed day by day into one like His own heart. Therefore, inner beauty is often making the choice to be quiet in the most difficult of situations. 

 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. James 3:5-10

    Yikes! From these verses, we can see the huge strength and deadly power of the tongue. We read that it can be used for good, from praising God to encouraging others to speaking up in bullying situations. However, the deadly effects of using the tongue in the wrong situations is highlighted. Every day, we experience the negativity of words. We understand the brokenness and the hurt that words can bring to relationships. Gossip can place labels on people, negativity can lead to depression, and calling names in the midst of anger can lead to broken friendships, hurt dating relationships, and the end of marriages. 

That's why God sees so much beauty in remaining quiet in the situations where words can form out of anger and envy, words that can lead to brokenness and discouragement. 

    So, again, shyness is not a sin if we are using it to our advantage in the moments where we should remain quiet and avoid harsh words. However, when we use our shyness as an excuse not to encourage and share God's love, when shyness is rooted up in fear and insecurity, shyness in and of itself isn't a sin, but it can often lead to sin.

   God made each and every one of us differently. He made each of us with a plan in mind and He created each of us to do amazing things with the personality He has gifted us with. Some people are naturally outgoing and loud. Others are quieter and struggle to start a conversation. Either way, it doesn't matter. We are unique, we are gifted, and we are beautiful in the eyes of our Creator. Nothing is a surprise to God, and having a particular personality is not a sin.

    Again, though, using our personality as an excuse of why we can't get out of our comfort zones, or as an excuse of why we hurt someone, can end up in a resulting sin. If I could choose, I would love to be outgoing. During so many moments of my life, I wasted multiple opportunities to make new friends, speak up for those who are hurting, and just make a difference, because I sat in my comfort zone and was too afraid to speak. My shyness has led to rudeness towards others, not because I'm trying to be rude, but because I've missed opportunities to speak with kindness and love when people have made an effort to converse. It hurts me. But I find peace in knowing that God is love, that He understands my struggles because He knows me and the personality He gave me even more than I know myself, and that He forgives even when I don't move when He asks me to. 

    If you are naturally shy like me, I want to encourage you today. This is a reminder not to beat yourself up for every missed opportunity, but to remember that God created you with beauty no matter what you do, that you are loved, and that God's grace and mercy will abundantly flow into your life, as long as you give it up to Him. This is a reminder that if shyness is leading into struggles and issues, as I have so often experienced, to not give up. Don't let shyness lead into fear of sharing the love of God. Make a difference. Practice creating conversations at home that you can use later on with strangers. Don't let the enemy defeat you, but through God's strength, work on overcoming the battles that can result from being shy. 

   While I am still shy, this past school year, my junior year of high school, has been a year of victory for me in regards to my shyness. I have made huge gains through the power of prayer and the strength of God. I have prayed, experienced a day of being extremely outgoing compared to the usual me, wondered why, and then remembered my prayer and the love of our God. Different experiences this year, such as volunteering at the animal shelter, particularly helping adopters at the offsite, and being forced to converse one-on-one with students, as editor of the yearbook staff, has been some of several opportunities that have allowed me to, day by day, slowly work on becoming a girl who is secure in who she is,  as well as converse with confidence, while still maintaining a quiet and gentle spirit that is filled with God's love and a slowly-transforming inner beauty that He so desires to see in every one of us.

    No matter what, we were all made to thrive with the personalities and traits God gave us. But when shyness is used as an excuse for sitting in our comfort zones, and shyness leads to little interaction with people, we are missing out on the gift of God: the people He has placed with purpose into our lives. Day by day, by His strength, I am working on sharing His love and overcoming the trials of shyness. For those of you who are shy, let this be an encouragement for you to do the same!

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