I am humbled and ashamed all in one fell swoop by the sweet woman that gifted me with a framed verse. “I’ve been reading your blog and I knew I had to give this to you,” she told me. But, her voice trembled and she could barely look me in the
eyes. Yet, she dutifully handed me the small framed piece.
Within the confines of its four walls was the verse:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
“I’ve had it in my office and I’ve been meaning to give it to you but you’re intimidating,” she admitted. And, my heart sunk.
Here was this oh-so-sweet soul gifting me with something laid upon her heart while utterly uncomfortable talking to me because of the intimidation I exude.
She explained that I am intimidating due to the way I use words and teach, and other things that could seem like positives. And though she even tried to express them as positives, I was ashamed that my presence made her uncomfortable. I know how not scary I actually am.
Truth be told, I am a rather stoic person. I don’t smile a lot and I’m not going to randomly walk up and hug you like we’ve been best friends for years. The reality of it all, is that although I can stand up and speak with confidence, I am a nervous wreck while doing it. I am far more comfortable in the back row, watching without speaking.
Recently, I have seen something going around Facebook about being an extroverted introvert and though I haven’t clicked on the link, I imagine I know what that means. Yes, I can appear to be extroverted as I work in the midst of my gifting, namely teaching, but that is only because of His Spirit in me. I am not naturally someone who would choose to stand up in front of people, ever!
I suspect that it is this duplicity of personality that aids in people perceiving me as intimidating. Surely, in some instances, intimidation can serve as an excellent protector. But, when this woman, who I know to have such a genuine and kind demeanor, tells me that she’s intimidated by me, and I can tell that it took a lot for her to even speak to me, I have to feel ashamed. Certainly I don’t want to make my spiritual siblings uneasy, I want them to know that I am someone they can trust and feel safe with.
Sometimes shame is necessary for us to be truly humbled in the Lord’s presence. I am sorrowful that my facial expressions, and generally withdrawn personality puts people on edge. But, like everyone else on this planet, I have adopted coping mechanisms for personal and emotional safety.
I can only assure you that the need for change is not going unnoticed, and that I will heed the Scripture she gave me. Surely thinking on those things can only bring more smiles and less reticence towards human interactions. Maybe it will help alleviate her anxiety as well.
In case you’re interested, I found an intriguing article about being an intimidating person. You can read it here. The five points seem wholly valid to me, but feel free to start a discussion about it in the comments section.