Steve's Story: Shyness
Excerpt from Rescued from Hell, Chapter 7: The Journey to Healing
The hardest thing to get about shyness, if you want to be free of it, is that it is a sin. Wait a minute. Isn’t it a personality disorder, a psychological problem? Of course it is. Sin is what dis-orders the personality that God actually gives us; sin is what causes problems in our psychological, emotional and spiritual make-up. God fashions us in the womb in His Image. He doesn’t put sinful or fallen things on us. The enemy does that through Adam’s sin (the original sin), through generational sin, through the sins of others and through our own sinful reactions. Since I had been shy as long as I had known me, it took me a year or so to comprehend this. Roy Hessian’s little book, Calvary Road, brought this understanding home to me, but I was already groping towards it. Instinctively, we all want to be free. I haven’t met a shy person yet who really wanted to be shy. I felt trapped, like a person in a glass house, behind a wall of insecurity and inferiority. I wanted desperately to be able to go out and play with the other kids in my new neighborhood!
Since my determination to struggle towards freedom was so great, most of the time I refused to back away from doing things just because my shy side was acting up. I challenged my fears on purpose. I did lots of things afraid and that simple virtue of persistence began to build a fragile sense of confidence that I could survive in a world of people. You don’t have to be a believer in anything but yourself to do this. In high school I had won public speaking awards, been in plays and in the public eye, all without losing one teensy bit of shyness. The new piece of divine equipping, however, was that it really helps if you become a believer in the Lord’s ability, rather than just your own, to help you manage your shyness. You can then grow a greater confidence in God, which will help you overcome all kinds of fears.
Once you can confess shyness as a sin, you begin to get more lasting victories for two reasons: it invites God to work where the problem really lies; it also leads to a radical re-envisioning of who you actually are. First, the problem is not “out there” in the scary world of people and the risky life of faith, it is “in here”—in a heart that chooses not to trust God with your very life. This has to be named and confessed as sin because it is sin. Once that’s accomplished, you and God can be “on the same page” in working with the real problem. Second, you are not shy. If you have Jesus in you, then you are united at the core of your being with the least shy Person in the universe. You have been made one with Him; His nature is now in you. He says His redeemed are “bold as lions” (Psalm 28:1). That’s because He knows who we really are. He knows what is in the new heart and spirit He has put inside of us. He knows what we are capable of becoming once we put our trust entirely in Him.
Often by using others, what the enemy puts in through his own sins against us is the fear of man, people pleasing, and pride, an inordinate self-focus. I know now that what comes in can also go out. Knowing and naming what needs to be dispensed of as sin strengthens our resolve not to let it hamper whatever the Lord may be asking of us. If you think you are fighting against your own innate personality, then good luck. How can self defeat Self? That’s a guaranteed formula for discouragement. It made all the difference in the world to see that the truth about myself is that, at heart, I already am a person who loves and enjoys the company of others. In this way I was much more able to resist shyness, relax and focus on others. Such trust and shift of focus from oneself then allows the Holy Spirit to bring forth the new nature that God has already placed inside of us. It was a long time coming, but nobody who knows me now believes I ever had a shy side.
Even so the enemy completely hoodwinked me concerning the fear of speaking in public, a sin that is closely related to shyness. When I arrived at Christ Church fresh out of seminary I was petrified of the pulpit. This went on for years. Just trying to study the scriptures for an assignment would induce a hyperventilating, heart-pounding, cross-eyed, brain-fogged sorry state of affairs. You would think that God would give you more confidence if He was calling you to preach. Fears tell us a lot more about ourselves, than they do about what God’s will for us may be. I have found that God often calls us to walk in the direction of our fears. Lacking any better answer, I preached afraid for years. Eventually as my preaching got better, my confidence in God rose and my fear diminished. Once again, though, what gave me the final victory was confessing fear of speaking in public as sin, just as I had done with shyness years earlier. Why I didn’t get that revelation sooner, I don’t know, but it definitely brought greater freedom once I began applying it in earnest.
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