One of my earliest childhood memories is the scent of clean cotton warmed by my mother’s body. Her full skirts offered a shy little girl a safe place to hide from inquisitive adults trying to engage her in conversation. I remember being just the right height to grasp the fullest part of her skirt and roll myself into her side. Childish logic told me if I couldn’t see the person trying to speak to me then I wouldn’t have to answer. If I was particularly reticent, my mother had to disentangle me from her skirt before she could move.
Nowadays I prefer to call myself an introvert instead of shy, although I still find it difficult to extend myself to strangers and long conversations often exhaust me rather than energize. I am quite content with my own company much of the time, which can lead to unhealthy isolation. Deliberate socialization is something I need to work at. Not to say I don’t enjoy people but prefer a few close friends or family to unfamiliar crowds.
How did I end up here? I asked myself the first time I stepped up to a microphone to address a large group of women. That question and the memory of hiding in my mother’s skirts often precedes my numerous public speaking engagements. The answer to that question gives me the courage to unroll from the skirt of shyness and speak with confidence.
The answer is, I have good news to tell. Good news too important to keep to myself. Good news emboldening me to look each person in the eye with a holy joy bubbling up inside as I tell what it means to me. Good news able to make all the difference in the lives of my listeners. I speak about the Gospel – the good news of forgiveness, hope, joy and new life found in a relationship with Jesus, my living Saviour.
In Luke 19, the Pharisees criticized Jesus for allowing His disciples to shout accolades of praise to Him as He came to the Mount of Olives.
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:40)
He is the only reason this shrinking violet has become a shouting stone. No cause, campaign, or crusade could stir me to speak like I love to speak about Jesus. When I speak about Him I feel His passion giving strength to my voice, His truth enlivening my words, His love shining from my eyes upon the people listening. I am no preacher, but I know intimately what He has done for me and what He means to me and I cannot help but share it.
Sometimes when I am giving a public address I experience a sort of “out-of-body” view of the whole affair and have an internal laugh. It reminds me of the story of the turtle on the fence post. How did it get there except by someone putting it there? Only God could take a shy introvert, flood her with exciting news about Himself and then put her on multiple “fence posts” from which to share it with many others needing to hear. I do so gladly.
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus.” – 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 14 NIV