I'm fairly normal. I don't have a fervent need to skydive or eat worms just to say I've done either. I wear tennis shoes and blue jeans and love my "brick wall" fingernail polish that is chipping off my nails as I type this. I love coffee, I eat cheeseburgers and I own too many purses. These are some of the norms that I'm proud of. I’ve spent most of my life believing that I “fit in.” Not in the stereotypical way that most junior high kids want to fit in, but I fit in because I’ve never been socially awkward. Being born with blonde curls and blue eyes didn’t make it hard on me either…
Growing up, I always knew who God was. I was raised in a family that loved God and I was taught about Him from a very young age. From the outside, my life looked quite normal. There was just one minor detail that separated me from most children my age – I was deathly shy. I couldn’t do the normal things my classmates around me did for fear of rejection. I purposely avoided social situations just for the fear of simply having to introduce myself. I was quiet and kept to myself. Shyness had such a grip on me that many times I couldn’t even ask permission to go to the restroom during class. Small things set me on edge and I was constantly in that state of fear.
After I graduated high school I knew I wanted to do something for God. I felt a call to ministry as a teenager, but feared God would ask me to do something outside my comfort zone. I knew it would be hard to be in any public ministry when I couldn’t even tell a waiter what I wanted to order at a restaurant. Knowing that I had to start somewhere, I signed up for a mission trip with Crosslines College Ministries. Little did I know God would use this trip to change my life forever.
The very first day that we stepped foot off the airplane in the Philippines, my group dropped off our suitcases and split up into teams to attend Bible studies. My translator and I boarded a bus and I slipped into the back, hoping to blend into the crowd. I had never been to a nation where being white caused me to stick out. I was incredibly uncomfortable being stared at and tried my hardest to focus on the beautiful nation I was in and suppress my shyness.
As we entered the home where the Bible study was being held, I slipped into the back, hoping to find the most inconspicuous chair in the room. My translator eventually found me and asked me to move to the front, which I did, reluctantly. As I took a seat on the front row, my translator again gave me a puzzled look and told me to head to the front of the room. I suddenly realized that she was pointing to the pulpit. I was to be the guest preacher for the Bible study! As the thought finally registered in my mind, I was absolutely consumed with panic. I begged and pleaded with my translator to choose someone else, to let me sit quietly in my complacent seat. She had no sympathy, and simply told me I could take a moment and say a prayer before I began.
I fought back the tears as I excused myself into the next room to try to plan my escape route. There was nothing spiritual in me at that moment--all I could think about was leaving. But at that instant, I paused and saw myself from an outside perspective. I had been saved all my life; I loved the Lord; I wanted to serve Him; I had done countless fundraisers; and I had just flown 18 hours to get to this country. It suddenly dawned on me that in all of the months of preparation it had never occurred to me that I might be asked to share the gospel. That, of course, is the objective of a mission trip, but I had thoroughly convinced myself that I would blend in amongst my teammates, allowing them to let me coast with such a large team. At first I began praying that God would somehow get me out of this situation. But, this prayer felt very wrong as the words came out of my mouth, and in that moment, something changed inside of me. Every recollection of shyness began to flood my memory. The fear and the pain and frustration all rushed back, stronger than ever. And, in that split second, I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to make a decision. I could remain in that life of torment or I could change my destiny. A righteous indignation suddenly overtook me. It’s as if a light switch flipped on. I realized all those years of torment and bondage were a stronghold in my life because Satan knew how powerful I could be if I chose to lay that fear down. I began praying like I had never prayed before. I rebuked all the fear and shyness that had held me captive my entire life. I told Satan he could no longer steal from me and that his grip on me was ending. I asked the Lord to wash every single ounce of shyness away from me and replace it with a fire and boldness for the Lord. As I prayed, my prayers became louder and more confident. I prayed for only five minutes but it felt like hours. I could literally feel the chains break off my life as I prayed in that room. I remember yelling at Satan, telling him that I was going to walk into that Bible study and share the gospel. And to make up for the years he had stolen from me, I would preach the rest of my life just to spite him! I walked out of the room a different person. I preached with such boldness and conviction that the people at that Bible study got saved and my translator even had to tell me to quit preaching because we had run out of time!
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3/7/2020 04:19:00 am
Praise the Lord Janice! Thank You for sharing your story. I can relate to being painfully shy and still work to overcome it at times. I pray I will use this Psalm for protection from it so I too my be a useful Gospel sharing woman!
3/25/2020 08:25:25 am
Thank you for writing Dee. Thrilled the article has been a help and encouragement to you. Your life has a great purpose and God will use you to share with others as you put your trust in Him.
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