Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Socially Awkward Christian

Have you ever walked into a room filled with people and immediately thought, “Nope, never mind. This is NOT going to happen.”? You know that feeling where you feel like everyone in the room is looking at you? Your pulse starts racing, like your heart is about to beat out of your chest, you suddenly become violently nauseous, and you can feel the beads of sweat forming on your forehead? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think everyone, even extroverts, have experienced that at least once in their lives. But for the socially awkward/socially anxious person this is a daily, sometimes constant, feeling.

I don’t remember how far back my social awkwardness goes, it seems like I’ve always been this way –the simple thought of social interactions often makes me want to throw a blanket over my head and say, “Nope, not today. Sorry life, but people scare me.” That’s the life for the socially awkward individual. It’s a constant battle of longing for friendship, love, and companionship while at the same time being terrified of it. The constant battle in my own mind, and I’m going to assume in many others’, has led me to a deep confusion of my own feelings of wanting something and fearing it at the same time. But one thing I should point out is that, very often, we don’t even realize that this battle is taking place in our own heads. We just constantly feel like we don’t fit in, like no one else is like us. We long to understand why we feel so awkward in social situations and we don’t even realize that there is a battle raging on in our own minds. I know that I was unaware of my what was going on inside my own mind until recently.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I am an introvert. Joy and peace in my life is the greatest when I am alone with a good book, a paper and pencil, or with just one or two close friends. I am no good at small talk and I don’t know how to strike up a conversation with a stranger or sometimes even with an acquaintance. Every Sunday morning at church, you know that time where you’re supposed to shake hands and say hello to the people around you, I always briefly contemplate whether or not anyone would notice if I hid under the pew or took off to the bathroom. Now, I feel as if I should elaborate on that a little bit because, if taken out of context, someone might drastically misunderstand what my point is. It’s not the other people that I have a problem with; in fact, I love other people and I love making new friends, but it’s my own brain and voice in my head that totally terrify me.

I was a painfully shy child who learned how to put masks on as I got older. I learned to adapt to my environments by donning a fake personality, never really showing anyone who I was. I’ve always taken my cues from what the people around me are doing, which has led me to have a really jacked up perception of how people interact. I never really learned for myself what my personality was or who I was, so now, as an adult, I am confused and torn.

In a recent conversation with a friend, I mentioned how socially awkward I am, how my social anxiety often seems to control my interactions (or lack thereof) with other people, and he seemed to chuckle at first, not believing me because he couldn’t see it. But that’s the thing about those of us who struggle with social awkwardness, most people would never know. We’ve gotten really good at masking our awkwardness. As for me, some people question my introversion because once they get to know me well and I am in an environment where I am free to be me (I should say that there is a very small number of people in my life who know me on this level), I tend to be more on the goofy side, I let my guards down and I have fun and enjoy the company of other people. But the people who know me on that level, stuck with me through the beginning of our friendship, which was, for me, painfully awkward. I enjoy public speaking and I am actually rather good at it. I was 11 years old when I won my first public speaking competition and for me this was a HUGE accomplishment that would prove to be the beginning of me emerging from my shyness. But coming out of my shyness would not mean also becoming less socially awkward. In a sense, I believe that it increased my social awkwardness. As I emerged from my shell, I began to see and feel like I was not like everyone else and that feeling of being “different” drove me to hide myself behind layer of lies and masks.

As an adult, most social interaction is filled with anxiety and my own insecurities. I often leave a conversation thinking, “why did I say THAT?” or “wow, I wonder what she thinks of me now,” or “why can’t I be more like that?” Or, if I had a wonderfully, positive interaction with another person, I find myself questioning their motives and what they may want from me. Even in conversations with some of my closest friends (and maybe more often with them because I care more about what they think of me) I find myself over analyzing everything I say, wondering what they are thinking of me because of the what I just said and wondering if I need to explain myself more because maybe they misunderstood me. I have one very close friend in particular, who I seem to do this with all the time – and it drives me bonkers that I do it to myself. This friend has always shown me more love than I could’ve ever asked for and definitely more than I deserve (God blessed me immensely when He placed her in my life), but for some reason, I often walk away from my conversations with her condemning myself for what I said and how I said it and what I didn’t say and the list could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the picture by now. It’s often in this process of over analyzing my words and actions that God will, quite frequently, give me a gentle shake and tell me to just chill out (and let me tell you, without that gentle reminder from Him, I would probably drive myself completely insane with worry over my conversations with other people).

I’m sure that my experience with social anxiety and social awkwardness may not be the only explanation out there. I’m sure that other people may have their own reasons or explanations as to why they are the way they are; but I’m convinced that I am not the only person who struggles in this way.

So the next thing I want to know is, will I always be this way? Will I ever be able to look at social situations without being filled with anxiety? I think so. I think that God has given us a pretty solid description of what love and life should look like, and His description doesn’t include debilitating anxiety.

I have a lot of fears, some rational, most irrational. One by one, I am learning to give them over to God. And while I have not yet been successful in turning over my fear of social situations, I take great comfort in Psalm 34:4 – I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. He WILL deliver me from my fears, I know that, but I think that it requires some hard work on my part first. I will have to walk, with Him, through the suppressed pain of my past in order to be who He made me to be. All He asks is that I trust Him and seek Him and He will deliver me (and yes, I know that this is often much easier said than done because I like to avoid the pain at all costs).

Isaiah 30:18 – Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. Don’t quit before the miracles happen…I’ve heard that somewhere before…

1 John 4:7-8 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. I need to remember, and I think all of us who are socially awkward, need to remember what God calls us to do. God has called every one of us to love each other; He doesn’t narrow it down into categories for the socially awkward and the social butterflies. We are called to love and to share His love with others. I think it’s important to not let my own awkwardness and anxieties stand in my way of loving other people with the love that God has given me.

I know that I will always be an introvert; that IS how God made me and how He will use me. There is a desperate need for both introverts and extroverts alike. But I do think that one day I will be able to look at social situations without as much fear and anxiety as I do now. I will probably always have some social awkwardness about me; I don’t think that will ever go away completely. But what I do know is that there is hope.


I’m Not Who I Was

Frail emotions
On the brink of destruction
Stability’s fading
And I’m losing my traction
Lies piercing my soul
Feeling so much like truth
Broken reality
Truth and lie fused

Have I loved You completely?
Have I given up my control?
I thought that I had
Now I question my soul
Show me what You will
Remove all the lies
I can’t see the difference
With this cluttered mind
Do I really love You?
Or am I just a fake?
I say that it’s real
But is that a mistake?

Anxieties invade
Love’s a deception
Hope for the broken
It’s all for attention
Striving for freedom
From sins that run deep
Guilty heart must admit
“Father, I’m weak”

Have I loved You completely?
Have I given up my control?
I thought that I had
Now I question my soul
Show me what You will
Remove all the lies
I can’t see the difference
With this cluttered mind
Do I really love You?
Or am I just a fake?
I say that it’s real
But is that a mistake?

Unblinded eyes
Burn from the light
Holiness shining
With hope in the night
Human ability
Minimal at best
Divine strength
Offers sweet rest

I have not loved You completely
But the best way I knew how
It’s not my full potential
But it’s all I have now
Show me what You will
As You expose all the truth
I will see my shortcomings
And keep turning to You
My heart aches to love You
It’s not been an act
Each day you still mold me
It’s been all that I have

Mending wounds
From past heartache and failure
Beautiful guidance
In the hands of a Savior
Awestruck devotion
The transformation of love
All I can say
Is I’m not who I was

The Power of Grace

How do I know that God exists? Because I am not who I used to be.

When I first came to God, I was unsure of Him or who He was. I didn’t think He would want anything to do with me. I had been broken, battered, and bruised, all because of choices that I had made to lead me away from Him and the desires that He placed in my heart. As a child, I was confused about the longings and desires of my heart, so I put my hope in things of this world; things that would never satisfy my soul.

Proverbs 13:12 – Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

As a young child, I felt abandoned because of my dad’s absence and I thought for sure that God had abandoned me too. This, among other things, would lead me on a lifelong search for love, validation, and acceptance. But it wouldn’t be until many years and many mistakes later that I would see, the only place to find what I had been looking for was in God.

God doesn’t expect me to earn my way to Him. He knows that I am an imperfect sinner. In fact, I’m sure He knows it better than I do. He knows that I fail every day to trust Him fully and to obey Him completely. But because of His grace and His mercy, I am confident that He still loves me even though I can’t measure up.

John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

I have always been bound by guilt and shame from my past. That guilt and shame has kept me in silence for so long. I suffered, but I wouldn’t speak for fear of rejection and ridicule. I hid my feelings and my emotions behind many layers of masks, thinking that if anyone saw the truth, they would surly stone me. But God wants me to be free from those chains. Jesus died a horrendous death on the cross to free me from the grip of sin and death; to free me from the guilt and shame that has kept me from experiencing His love and mercy.

1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

For the first time in my life, I can say that I AM FREE!!! I am free to be the woman that God created me to be. I am not bound by my past and I am not controlled by my fears. But I am saved by grace! I have done absolutely nothing to deserve all that God has done for me, but He has had mercy on me and He continues to give me grace upon grace to get through every day.

Ephesians 2:8 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.

Yes, I still fail. Yes, I still sin. I am not perfect; I won’t be until Jesus returns or He brings me Home. We love in a broken world and horrible injustices happen every day. Innocent lives are taken or stained by the guilt and shame of abuse. My job in this world, until God chooses to take me out of it, is to share His love. He has brought me through so much “yuck” and it is because of the freedom He has given from that, that I am thankful for my past and for however God is going to use it to help someone else.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

I won’t pretend to understand His ways. His love, grace, and mercy are more than I’ll ever fathom. All I need to know is that He is good and He loves me.

Zephaniah 3:17 – For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

The Power of Grace
I came to Him in my weakness
I didn’t know who I was
I was tired of running my past
But too afraid to give up
Giving up meant failure
And I longed for success
But the choices I made to get there
Just created a broken mess
I had become a hollow shell
And numb to my pain
Crying out to Him
Felt like a cry in vain
Would He listen at all
To my pleas for His help
When the place I had come to
Was all because of myself

He brought me to my knees
I was shaking with fear
As He told me He loved me
That He’s always been here
I couldn’t understand
What kind of love is that
After I’d run away
With open arms, He took me back
For so long I lived
In the hell of my silence
Shame and guilt left me thinking
I’d never find acceptance
But He came to meet me
Right where I was
And He loved me so much
That He poured out His blood
He took all my guilt
And He took all my shame
And said to me, “Child,
Your price has been paid.
That shame isn’t yours
Put it down, walk away.
I’ll show you freedom
Through the power of grace.”

You see, I’m just a sinner
Just like everyone else
No better, no worse
And I can’t save myself
For so long I was convinced
My sins had left me useless
But He turned my life upside down
And He tells me, I’m priceless
The power of His grace
Has saved me from myself
So even when I am hurting
My soul can say, it is well

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