I have always been shy, for as long as I can remember. I would listen to people talk but then feel very awkward and uncomfortable if anyone gave me any sort of attention. As a result, I’ve grown up feeling like I would rather avoid as much ‘stranger danger’ contact as possible. If I go for a walk I look down when a car passes or I adjust my route if I see that I might cross paths with another person. I’ve always felt a little guilty about it and sometimes I’ve tried to make the change of smiling and saying ‘hello’, but then I draw back inside, finding the place of being comfortable, lined with flecks of guilt.
Some part of me has always seen my shyness as some kind of sin. I know that it really isn’t, but I treat it like it is anyway. I don’t speak easily to people, how can I share the gospel then? I would rather not look up and smile, how is that showing God’s love? I don’t know what to say in the instant, how does that fit with always being ready to give a reason for the hope I have (1 Peter 3:15)?
And in the past, I would read the end of Matthew 5 and feel guilty about it. “43You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” I would read this and somehow always come up with ‘I need to be more outgoing’, because obviously to be perfect like God you need to be able to talk easily and be super friendly, right?
That’s what I used to read whenever I read the passage. But when I reviewed it again for writing the poem for Tuesday’s post, I realized that isn’t what the passage is saying at all. In context, Jesus is talking about friends verses enemies. He’s saying that we need to take notice of others, be kind to them, just as God is kind to us. We are living in a time right now when God is showing mercy to both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’—how much more should we be willing to show mercy? I realize now that God isn’t burdening me to be more outgoing in this passage, but He’s explaining again the calling we have as Christians: that we love one another, just as Jesus said in John 15.
So be encouraged, all you out there that are shy like me. I know that God created all personality types for a reason and He doesn’t despise any of them. But there is a calling we all share: to love one another, good or bad.
9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17This is my command: Love each other.” ~John 15
Have a blessed weekend!