When I was a child, shyness was my protection.
Refusing to meet their eyes, waiting for parents to arrive so I didn’t have to make conversation, or only opening up with the people who made me comfortable: These were my safety zone. If you met me now, you’d never believe the difference. I am an extrovert often commented on for my “natural confidence”. If only people knew!
My shyness as a child was me escaping from uncomfortable situations and feelings. I continued to escape those feelings as I got older, just in more creative ways. My shyness made me research etiquette – how to act in every situation – so I wouldn’t be embarrassed or caught off guard. The knowledge made me appear more confident (and even feel more confident!) but ultimately, I was the same shy girl on the inside, devastated when I said the wrong thing.
The solution to shyness is not knowing exactly what to say in every situation. It’s not to never run into anyone who makes you uncomfortable. And it’s not solved by being in control of how people perceive you. Becoming confident is an inner transformation, worked in us as God changes our view of both others and ourselves. My confidence wasn’t the product of etiquette books. It was the product of deepening my walk with God.
The Root of my Shyness
My own struggle with shyness was because I deeply feared the opinions of people. I was terrified to say the wrong thing or look stupid in front of others, so I said little or nothing until comfortable. I wanted to laugh and joke and be “one of them”. Inside, I was a bubbly extrovert! My fear made me act untrue to my real desires.
Not everyone who is shy is a hidden extrovert. Some people are genuinely quiet. But if your shyness is due to fear of other people, it’s time to face this head-on! You cannot grow spiritually and emotionally if you continue to place people on such a high pedestal. You will always be captive to their opinions, with a divided allegiance to both God and man.
A Confidence Change
If you read most magazines, you’re told that confidence will come once you get the right clothes, makeup, or summer body. Confidence will come when you finally have a boyfriend or you embrace your flaws. While these things may give temporary confidence or poise in a public situation, they are still only one negative opinion away from devastating your heart.
Isaiah 32:17 says that righteousness results in quietness and confidence. Quietness is a restful, trusting spirit. Confidence comes from being right before God. Nowhere in that equation do the opinions of people play a part. True confidence does not require that people like what you say or how you look or where you went to college. It requires a heart that is completely at rest in Christ’s work on her behalf.
We need a confidence change: A transformation from temporal confidence to the kind that sticks with us. God-confidence replaced my shyness as I embraced who God made me and sought His opinion first – which I found by diligently studying His Word and supplemental books about the Christian faith. The more I pressed into the heart of God, the less concerned I was with how people perceived me, and the less shy I became.
If your shyness is rooted in what people think, it’s time for a confidence change. The opinions of people do not control you, and if you’ve lived as if they do, now is the time to let God transform your mind! He created you. He will show you how to live a life free from fear and full of restful trust.