That’s Not Your Gift

“You’re quiet.”

I hear it again and again.

I think my quietness often makes me come off as unapproachable, unkind, or even a little stuck-up. This is something about myself I have often resented because who wants to be seen as those things when in reality they aren’t any of them?

I’m sure I’m not the only one that is unbelievably introverted and painstakingly shy: quite the deadly combo if you ask me. Here’s the thing. I love people. I love getting to know them and find out what makes them who they are. But, unless that person is driving that conversation, I just don’t know how to do that. What questions do I ask? How do I show that I can relate without making it about me? How does this whole “making friends” thing even work?

I’m sure more than one of you have had a conversation with me where I just looked at you awkwardly because I didn’t know what to say or ask or do. Maybe you have actually had a great conversation with me, who knows. But if so, I guarantee you that it took every fiber of my being to not make it awkward.

It’s just who I am. I can do my best to get better, but really there is no changing it. But you know what? I’ve learned that that is okay. I don’t have to be the best conversationalist. I can be awkward. I can be quiet and shy. I can be all of the things that make me who I am.

Why? Because while those are things that I might not always like about myself, they bring out qualities in me that I am proud to have.

I might not talk much, but I am an excellent listener. I try to show you I relate or that I care because I DO. I empathize and care deeply about the people in my life. I might not know how to show it in a not awkward or “normal” way, but hopefully you can feel it.

1 Peter 4:10 tells us that “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts.” Being able to make small talk with others? Not one of my gifts. Making new friends? Not one of my gifts. But that is okay because God gave those gifts to someone else just like he gave me the gift of being a great listener and feeling empathy for others.

1 Corinthians 12:14 says, “For the body does not consist of one member, but many.” It takes all of us bringing our gifts together. I can’t do it on my own and neither can you. But when we bring our gifts together and have God on our side, I know there is nothing we cannot do.

Instead of thinking about the things you cannot do or the things you aren’t good at, think about the things that you excel at. Maybe the things you aren’t good at even make it that way, just like me being naturally quiet leads to me being a great listener. Whatever it is, choose to see how God uses us all as pieces of His puzzle. It can’t be put together without each of us. So forget about what you can’t do, focus on what you can, and choose to see the light that comes from everyone working together and supporting each other.

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Fear is Just a Lie

Sitting in a salon getting my hair cut by one of my role models, we came to the conversation of my desire to write more. I told her the problem is I don’t know what to write. I don’t know where to start because I don’t know where I want to finish or what point I even want to make. You know what she told me? “Just start writing. You don’t have to have a plan when you start. It will come together on its own.” So here I am, just starting.

I have had this blog for over three years now and I have never shared it publicly with people I know. I am scared of what people will think. I am scared of the judgment I could receive. But mostly I am scared of simply being so vulnerable to every person that reads it.

I like to be this person that never says anything that could hurt someone else. This person that feels so much guilt when she inconveniences anyone, even a stranger. I keep my feelings inside of me and rarely let how I really feel out to anyone, even my closest friends. So the thought of sharing my deepest thoughts and moments terrifies me. I can’t get around that fact, but I can lessen that fear by leaning on God.

My favorite verse of the bible is from Joshua 1:9. The message is simple: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” But if I believe that verse, then why am I still living in fear?

Years ago I watched a video journal of Mike Donehey, the lead singer of Tenth Avenue North (my all-time favorite band). In it he talked about a book he had read by Fyodor Dostoyevsky called The Brothers Karamazov. The line that jumped out at him was “Avoid fear, though fear is just the consequence of every lie.” Really you should just go watch the video because he explains it so well, but basically Mike says that fear only exists when we choose to believe a lie. And who is the father of lies? Satan is. He plants those lies in our head and brings out our fears.

Think about it for a second. What are you afraid of? Why are you afraid of it? Why am I so afraid to be vulnerable and share this blog with people that actually know me? Is it because of that time in middle school that I was told I was annoying and believed it (and sometimes still do)? Is it because I believe that my thoughts and opinions have no worth? Is it because I believe what other people think of me matters in the long run?

The truth is none of it matters. Why? Because they are all lies. Lies that I have been believing for far too long. Lies that did nothing but produce fear and an unhealthy self-consciousness within me. How can I know? Simple. The bible tells us in Genesis 1:27 that “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” If I believe that my thoughts and opinions are annoying and have no worth, then what am I saying about God? For me to say that about myself, aren’t I also saying that God has no worth since He created us in His image? No, I am not just like Him because no one is; we are imperfect. However, God loves me in spite of those flaws. Yes, He wants me to be more like Him, but Romans 15:7 tells me he accepts me just the same: “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”┬áIn the end, it does not matter what others think of me, as long as I am striving each day to be more like God.

Instead of focusing on the fear created by believing lies, I am going to choose to focus on God and His Truth. No more being afraid of silly things. Because God will be with me wherever I go. When I feel that fear start creeping in, I am going to stop and choose to see the light: God’s light. I hope you will, too.