I like to run. I like to hide. I like to make excuses. I am good at it.
The reason? I am constantly afraid.
It is more difficult to admit this to myself than to you. I like to think that I am brave, compassionate, and courageous. But the truth is, my compassion hides behind my fear of people.
Lately I’ve been noticing that I have trouble looking people in the eye while I’m talking to them. Why does the edge of the coffee table fascinate me so much? There are certain people who I would love to get to know better, but I won’t approach them because that would mean talking to them. What would I say? What if they’re equally as unsure as I am, and the entire conversation is painfully awkward? I dread invitations to social events, and I am very skilled at finding excuses to get out of attending them.
Those who know me may be surprised to read this. I am generally a friendly person. Not necessarily outgoing, but I like to think I am easy to talk to and personable. But behind all this is a deep fear of people. I am so much safer on my own, or in my small bubble of close friends. To reach out of that warm, safe cocoon means opening myself up for the possibility of more insecurity–that terrible insecurity I felt as a painfully shy child, and that took years to overcome.
I desperately want to show the compassion and love of Jesus to people, but that is nearly impossible as long as I am afraid of the very ones to whom I am sent. I feel the vain need to always be confident and self-assured. If I am feeling particularly beautiful or well put together, I am more likely to approach someone. I more easily befriend those who are no competition to my own selfish sense of worth.
Jesus should be my confidence! Why do I try to find it in myself? He is my worth, my beauty, my assurance. If I truly lived daily in His presence and let my spirit meld with His , I wouldn’t be so afraid. I wouldn’t need to be self-assured, because I wouldn’t be thinking of myself! I would be reaching out to others in compassion and concern for their souls, not worrying what they might think of me.
Philippians 3:7-9 says “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—”
Everything I could claim as personal qualifications are a loss to Jesus, because, in that area, I am relying on myself. If I have all beauty, all confidence, all knowledge of what to say at the right moment…it is loss for Christ, because I am not fully depending on Him to guide my every word and action. I am not looking to Him for the courage to approach the lonely ones with words of compassion.
For this reason, I count it all as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ and be found in HIM.
Next time God gives me the opportunity to speak with someone, I pray I don’t make excuses. I pray I don’t run or hide. Instead, my prayer is that I will boldly and humbly approach that person, not with my own confidence, but with the compassion and love of Christ, depending fully on Him for courage. After all, He is my only worth.