The Beauty of Shyness
"There is something beautiful about shyness, even though in our culture shyness is not considered a virtue. On the contrary, we are encouraged to be direct, look people straight in the eyes, tell them what is on our minds, and share our stories without a blush.
But this unflinching soul-baring, confessional attitude quickly becomes boring. It is like trees without shadows. Shy people have long shadows, where they keep much of their beauty hidden from intruders' eyes. Shy people remind us of the mystery of life that cannot be simply explained or expressed. They invite us to reverent and respectful friendships and to a wordless being together in love."
A lovely reminder from Henri Nouwen. Shyness was once my painful burden to bear, and I'm sensitive to those who also are afflicted. It may be beautiful to those who wish to peer through the shy person's leaves and see potential wildflowers there, but to the shy person, fear grips them like a tight-paw-clawed monster who knows no countryside boundaries. Even though I have fought off this monster and can speak words fairly easily now, I still have a dream which indicates stuck language in my throat as a mucous-like mass which I attempt to pull out and pull out and pull out. I still have memories of being unable to speak, of fear, of words which bite me back upon utterance, upon a terrible self-consciousness which grabs my throat, upon the inability to ford a bridge, get upon a raft, approach another wanderer in the woods, tell anyone my name, have an opinion to be verbalized, speak. I always felt like an object to be looked at, one which puzzled and sometimes, like the above, intrigued. I much rather would have liked to have had words to fend off others or to be known.
But, God is a Word-Spirit, thankfully. He helped me write, gave me phrases-inside, pushed me to love language and to try, try, try to speak until that inside mass thinned, pounding on chest and back until I could clear myself, my throat, and utter exquisite speech. Today, I read in Luke chapters 7 and 8 about all the healings Jesus gave to those, all the hopes realized, and I feel healed from this monster of shyness. It was a process but God wanted me to be able to not hide one day. May I remember that when I want to shift into timidy on important issues pressed into my heart which need to be articulated for good effect. Amen.