I walked into the first session with an unyielding point of view. No one was going to know how shy I was. Never would I give away how uncomfortable I felt in this new group. A firm lecture about how I was going to pull this off was foremost in my mind.
Smile a lot.
Introduce yourself to others.
Get a feel for the group and fit in as best you can.
Don’t say awkward things and in no way let them see how hard this is for you.
I stepped into the room with my well-used antenna engaged, sizing up the situation. Then I saw her. She was about my age, confident and bold. She walked up to these strangers, introduced herself and chatted warmly.
Ah, yes, she’s the way I want to be.
Why don’t I have that confidence?
Why can’t I just feel comfortable?
What is wrong with me, anyway?
Shape up, me! Get in there and participate!
We divided up into groups and sure enough SHE was in my group.
As it turns out I had a lot to learn about how I saw myself and more importantly how I mistreated myself.
I have recently come across a quote:
“The words you speak become the house you live in.”
The words inside my own head built a deep and believable lie: You are not OK. Who you are needs to be hidden. Your personality must change to be acceptable. You need fixing.
A sturdy brick house had been built using these hurtful and unkind words. I would never speak this way to others! But to myself they seemed to be the only way to preserve the fear of not being acceptable. I didn’t like me. Of course others wouldn’t either.
A life changing moment came for me when sitting with a small group designed to enable us to identify unhealthy patterns. “If the little girl you used to be was standing at the door, where would she go in this room to be safe? My eyes grew big as I realized that she surely would not run to me because I had been lecturing her since coming into the building. She would have to step in and hide, just as I had been doing all my life.
There was nothing wrong with that little me standing there. It is OK to be shy. It is just fine to feel uncomfortable in a new group of people. It is more than fine to not be an outgoing person! These were break-through thoughts. It is OK to be Deane. I do not need fixing.
It might seem kind of crazy but this realization changed my life! It is a pattern of self-rejection that I have had to fight all my life.
It is OK to be me.
I don’t have to hide.
I have much to offer just being me.
I don’t have to be all the wonderfulness of the visible behavior of other people.
I can be comfortable being me.
When tempted to retreat into my protective little house of lies, I speak out the truth and emerge as a comfortable, less shy person… pleasant to be around and happier with myself.
The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:103
How sweet are your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Setting my sights on sweet words to my self, the kinds of words that God himself speaks over me, will bring a sweetness to my soul full of satisfaction and thankfulness for what His work in me; the me that doesn’t need fixing, the me that is fearfully and wonderfully made, the me that was purchased at a high price on the cross and the me that is loved eternally.
Now THAT is a house I can delightfully dwell in… forever.