Open and Grow
1 Chronicles 16:11 Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
Psalm 14:2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirst for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water
Psalm 105:4 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually
Psalm 119:2-3 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!
Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.
James 4:8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
Years ago the church I attended had the members choose a word for the next year. The word was to represent something we wanted to accomplish throughout the coming year. It would take me a couple days usually to come up with a word that I could work toward.’]
I have always battled with shyness, low self esteem and such traits that kept me not stepping forward, and even earned me the moniker of “stuck-up” when I was not. When I was in nursing school, I had access to my mother’s car since she worked at the hospital – and we lived at the dormitory attached to the hospital. We had to attend the state college about ten miles away to complete our English, Social Studies, and Psych classes as well as Biology and Chemistry classes.
One of the gals was a roommate so she knew me well, but the other three lived on a different floor and did not know me well. It was about a month or so into the semester before I joined in their conversations while driving to the college. I do not remember what we were gabbing about, but suddenly two of the girls said at the same time, “You are SO funny. I had no idea you were so funny.” Then, one of them continued, “You ought to be like that more. We thought you were stuck-up.” Ouch.
I was immediately surprised, and both hurt that I had apparently presented badly when that was certainly NOT my intent. I was also very embarrassed that I came off so poorly. Curse that shyness and fear! But also felt some relief. They could now accept me because what they had felt was me purposely distancing from them, and not the nervousness I was experiencing with new people coming into my life. But they could see it clearer when I apologized and my roommate assured them I truly was not snobbish or distance. But I knew I needed to work hard on my presentation. It still requires work and extending my courage to be more open.
I, of course, had known my nervousness and desire to stay on the outskirts of meeting new folks; it took a while for me to get comfortable and relax and move forward in relationships, but I had not realized the perception I gave to others because of my shyness. Another Ouch.
But how do I fix this? How do I defeat this anxiety, fear and shyness rather than appearing as though I am a stuck-up snob? I really didn’t know and the fact I had to try to be forward, caused a fear. This was before I came to know Jesus.
I can’t say that I really, genuinely moved forward with this. Meeting new people remained a challenge for me. Although I did well meeting patients and families, I struggled with new experiences, being the ‘new kid in the unit.’ Once familiar with my duties and had been with the new staff for a while, I am comfortable and more relaxed with my colleagues. I gained friendships and my ‘snobby’ appearance was gone. It remained a struggle for me in new situations, but I continued working on the issue.
Later, I met and accepted Jesus, and began attending a new church. At the end of each year, the congregation was challenged to find a word that would be significant to each for the coming year. The first word I chose was ‘Open.’ I knew I had to work at being more open and ask Jesus for confidence when I meeting new people and being put in unfamiliar territory. One of my friends was the secretary of the church, and she asked me to join the “count team.” One of the members had died, Becky knew I was organized, had fair computer skills, was honest and a hard worker and felt I would be good at it. After the security scan passed, I joined the team. Part of that was also passing the plates at service each Sunday. OOOH boy, that means being in front of people. Almost immediately, the Holy Spirit reminded me of my word for that year. ‘Open.’ It was to open me to more experiences, and to try to be open and engaging and get relaxed. It was to ensure my mind was open and receptive to whatever opportunities were presented. I mentally wrestled for about 90 secs, then agreed.
Did the nerves disappear when I was scheduled to be passing the plate? No, absolutely they did not. But I continued to do it each week, smiling and hoping it did not look wooden. And it did get easier. The counting and bank deposit was done on Mondays; that was comfortable to me. I’m good at in-processing data, and there were three of us on the team, so we double checked the numbers, and then I would make the bank deposit. It was rapidly a comfortable volunteer position for me.
Before the end of the year, I realized God had certainly helped me become more open. I had my hesitation moments with new experiences, but I continued to move forward.
Another year, I chose ‘grow’ for my word of the year. I wanted to grow closer to God, to grow in my understanding of the bible, to grow in my knowledge and familiarity with the Word. Again, multiple opportunities came to assist me in my goal to grow. I listened to different pastors both on tv and in church, I joined bible studies, and continued to read. I did grow. Again, before the end of that year, I knew God had helped me reach my goal. I also grew more comfortable meeting new experiences and people. It was not easy, as I still had to work on my initial presentation, I had to work at getting comfortable.
Orne of my next words was to choose the word ‘wait.’ I continue to name that as one of my words each year. I am not very good at it, but in truth, I am better than when I initiated that word for the following year. But I have not gained the amount of patience to wait that I would like to achieve. So that is a work in progress. I knew I was impatient and wanted things done in MY time. If it felt like it should be NOW, then should I not get it now??
Choosing these different words helped me grow closer to God. I needed and used this practice to help me grow as a person, but I asked God to help me with this growth. I am still more hesitant in new situations than most other people, but I do it, and try to be more engaging than I am initially comfortable with. Each time I am facing a new situation or group, I feel the hesitation feelings but confidence has grown – thank You, Lord – so it has all helped me grow as a person and more importantly as a child of God. He has helped me develop more into who and what He wants me to be. I still have to choose the word of “WAIT” each year, and I work on being more OPEN, and I still work on “Grow.” They are also still pertinent to where I am in life. I try to remain open, I still have to work at growing my relationship with the Lord and work at developing what He wants for me, and I still have to work on my patience, and waiting. But each of these have helped me grow into a more approachable person and in my relationship with God.
I continue to grow in my knowledge and understanding of the bible and Jesus. You placed me in some wonderful biblical churches and helped me grow closer to who and what You want me and ‘mybellaviews.’