Friday, March 30, 2012

Shy Guys Can Be Bold

I wonder, can shy guys be bold?

There is a certain charm that comes with the shy guy.  Introverts do not seek out ways to voice their oppinions like many extroverts.  When we think about being bold with our faith, we can't help but think of the way extroverts tend to go out on a limb.  A crippling thought for Introverts.  Can introverts be just as bold in their faith without having to turn into an extrovert to do it?  By being who God created them to be, an introvert, they tend to be good listeners which gives them sincere knowledge and understanding in conversations.  While extroverts have to rely on God's strength to work the listening-muscel, introverts have it mastered!  We wouldn't want that to change.  The muscle that they have to rely on God's strength for is the one that comes next, being able to speak up about the hope they have in Christ.
Meet my friend Richard Jung.  He can attest to this truth.  Two weeks ago Richard shared with our small group Bible study how this played out two years ago in an airport:
In Richard's words...
When I realized our small group study would be on sharing our faith with others based on the book “Walk Across the Room”, I cringed.  The feeling was due to fact that I am inherently an introvert and had grown up as an extremely shy person.  Over the last 40+ years I have slowly shed this trait of shyness, with the bulk of it occurring over the last year.  
In one of our small group meetings I felt the Lord prompting me to share an experience I had almost two years ago, but did not as I fell back into my shyness.  The following week I committed myself to telling the story to the small group.
This experience occurred on a business trip to Nagoya, Japan in June of 2010.  I was waiting in the Tokyo, Japan airport for my connecting flight so I browsed the terminal stores, then went to find a seat.  Not just any seat, but one were there was nobody around.  I sat down put my headphones on and began listening to my music to pass the time.  Soon after, a woman sat two seats over.  Not too long after that she asked if we could talk, and I said yes.
The conversation began with simple topics such as where I was traveling to, is it for vacation or business and where I lived.  When I asked the same her responses revealed so much pain, doubt and sadness in her heart of the events that led up to our meeting in Japan .
She was a Middle Eastern woman who came to the US on working visa, sponsored by a university professor on the East coast.  She wanted to provide a better life for her eight year old son, who was being cared for by her mother, by working a job that may eventually have the opportunity to stay permanently here.  If that occurred, she would bring her mother and son to live in the US in the efforts to provide a better life.  As with many events in our lives they do not always turn out how we envision them.
After two years here she met a man whom she married.  Whether or not this was a marriage of convenience I cannot say, but soon after that was when things began to change.  Her husband had asked her to quit her job with the university, stay home and not communicate with anybody.  When she asked about getting citizenship now that they were married he replied with requests for money.  
She did everything he asked and even borrowed what money her mother had to give to him.  This continued for some time, but she then made the difficult decision to leave him.  She contacted the university professor who had sponsored her in efforts to get work.  Unfortunately he had none, but was able to put her in touch with an associate at a university in Nagoya, Japan, which is how our paths crossed.
After sharing this she asked me if she had made the right decision in leaving her husband.  I said yes, and that marriage should never be about controlling the other or about the money.
During this whole conversation she expressed so many emotions, missing her son, upset for giving her husband money with nothing to show, desperate to find a job so she can pay her mother back, uncertainty of where she was going to stay while in Japan and doubting the decision to leave her husband.  
There were so many more emotions weighing on her, and through the whole conversation I knew God was asking me to share my own life experience.  One filled with different events but with similar emotions that weighed me for over a decade.  In the end I did not act, not in fear of what I would say or how she would react, but for not relying on His strength to step out of the trait (shyness) that has gripped me for over four decades.
After we parted ways I knew I failed Him by not relying on His strength.  All I could do was pray silently for the woman who had shared so much.  I apologized to God and asked with all my heart to place His hand on her, shelter her during this storm and reveal Himself as a glimmer of light through the dark clouds, instilling hope for the future.
Richard Jung
March 29,2012

As an introvert Richard Jung knows shyness.  Being an introvert is probably what attracted a young lady to talk to him two years ago in that airport in the first place.  Today he remembers details about this chance meeting that an extrovert might have long forgotten.  God needs introverts to be introverts, but He needs them to rely on Him to step out of timidness and into boldness for His name's sake.  There are intervert-opportunites out there that God needs them for.  In the same way God needs extroverts to rely on Him to step away from impulsiveness and into self-discipline.  All of us can do nothing on our own strength, it is Christ's strength in us that makes the difference.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
We all have Richard stories stored up in our lives.  Ones where we needed to rely on God's strength in our weakness in order to do the right thing.  But those stories do not have to define how we walk with the boldness of Christ in us today.
God offers each of us (extroverts and introverts alike) the strength to stand with power, love and with self-discipline in regards to sharing the hope we have in Christ.  Like Richard, each of us can take our missed moments and learn from them.  Recognizing that it is Christ's strength in us that gives us all we need to go forward in sharring God's love to a world that desperately needs it.  

So yes, shy guys can be bold!

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