I was shy, and afraid that if something didn’t change, my social discomfort would only grow worse. At nineteen, I was on my own for the first time. How could I learn to talk to people? It seemed the more I tried, the more I bumbled around and embarrassed myself.
I prayed for a solution.
It wasn’t shyness
My Aha! moment came when I recognized my problem wasn’t shyness at all. It was that I worried too much about what people thought of me. I made excuses so I could avoid talking to people who might spot my insecurity. It was all about me.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40 NIV).
Coming out of fear
I prepared myself by storing a question in my back pocket that I could use when an encounter became uncomfortable. Since I’m fascinated by the origin of words, I planned to inform people about the meaning of their name. This seemed like a perfect way to use my strong suit, something I was comfortable talking about, to benefit someone else.
I compiled a list, looked up the root meanings in my grandma’s old dictionary, and found an encouraging Bible verse to pin on to each entry. Then I added a simple interpretation for each name.
The next time I was confronted with an awkward silence, I asked: “Do you know what your name means?
I was thrilled with the response. It was a great way for my hearers to see that I was engaged with them. And if I was unfamiliar with their name’s meaning, I’d offer to get back to them after doing more research. That meant I would get even more speaking practice.
An example of how this works
My name means that I am pure because of the Lamb of God. In addition to this, part of my name means he gives me the ability to protect and counsel. This interpretation lines up with my commitment to my marriage, family, and foster children.
Here’s how it breaks down. My first name, Kathleen, is from Catherine which originates from the Greek katheros, meaning pure. My middle name, Rae, is derived from Rachel, meaning ewe lamb. However, in my case, Rae came to me from my father’s middle name, Raymond, which is from Germanic words that mean counsel and protection.
The scripture I chose: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 ESV).
I’d love to hear of creative ways others have overcome obstacles. Feel free to leave a comment below.
by Kathy Sheldon Davis