For some time, I stifled who God designed me to be: a joyful, goofy person with a big smile who takes time to think and reflect before voicing her opinion (most of the time). As a child, I was shy and learning about myself and the world, but as I transitioned into college and the working world, stifling my personality was really fear of rejection and fear of man.
In college, I rarely spoke in class when I wanted to say something, even if I knew my thoughts would contribute to the discussion. The days I did speak up, I was horrified as everyone stared at me. Many times, my comment or question stumbled out of my mouth in a rather jumbled mess.
In my first job, I was so scared the day I led my first meeting for a project I managed that I couldn’t start the meeting. My supervisor saw me stall and started it for me. I was well-prepared, but my fear of man and fear of failure paralyzed me so much that I couldn’t act. I hated that I was so scared of people and situations. I wished I was as bold as everyone else seemed to be.
I began to repeat verses like Psalms 118:6 to myself. I wrote “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” in my journal and read it before work. I often felt weak and small at my job, but I reminded myself to take courage because the Lord was with me. Who is man compared with Him?
Nearly six years have passed since that day in the office when I froze like a deer in headlights, and by the grace of God, I am significantly more confident and have learned to gladly embrace who the Lord has designed me to be. I am goofy and smile a lot; I can’t help but be me. I speak up when my thoughts are valid. I am still nervous when I lead a meeting or speak in public, but I am glad for the nerves because they remind me to pray, “Jesus, help!”
Nerves also remind me of my humanity. I will be scared, jumble my words, make mistakes at work, and offend people. As much as I try to avoid doing these things, they will happen. In my imperfections, it is the act of seeking the Lord when life doesn’t go just right that brings perfection and order into a life that can be fairly chaotic. The Lord’s agency becomes my testimony: As the Lord and I walk through life together, I look back and see that I am not as fearful and willingly embrace who God has designed me to be.