Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Meeting The New Neighbor

"He whom the Son sets free is free, indeed." ... John 8:36


So there I was yesterday, walking back from the Salvation Army bin where I'd left a box of books (sometimes pulling books from my shelves feels like pulling teeth) when I saw our new neighbor from the grey house cleaning her storm door.

She turned and remarked about what a beautiful day we were having and after I agreed aloud, I stopped and introduced myself as Debra Who Lives in The Yellow House Across The Street.

We chatted for 15 minutes, or so, and I discovered her name is Sally, she's 76, and is renting the house along with her daughter, Sue, and her granddaughter (me remembering 3 names would have been a miracle) who is 24 and will be married one year from now. Her other daughter in Ohio will come up and build new front steps and their landlord is having their yard professionally landscaped. Oh, and their plumbing became backed-up the day before and they'd had to make a trip to WalMart last night, but were expecting a plumber soon (she kept looking down the street for him). I told her oh dear! She was welcome to use our bathroom anytime and she replied that was ok, the plumber really should be coming any moment. (Of course I went home and cleaned and straightened things just in case.)

There was more, but you get the idea. Sally was such a down-home delight, my favorite kind of person.

Over 20 years ago I couldn't have stopped to talk with a new neighbor like that. No, back then I would have quickly stared the other way, ducked my head and pretended like I spied something on the sidewalk ahead, like a Nancy Drew clue. Ha! Or coughed a little like I had a cold or something. (Good grief.) 

Yes, I was that shy, the kind of shyness which is actually 'pride in disguise' (I'm borrowing that from a long ago sermon) because I always worried about appearing inept; saying the wrong thing, running out of things to say, not hearing the other person clearly (I do have a hearing loss) or tripping or stuttering or falling on my head. Who knows? It all sounds so stupid now (because it was) and it led to misunderstandings galore, like people believing I was conceited, which is hardly the way a Christian wants to be perceived. 

I'd have been one dull blogger with no stories because I hardly spoke to anyone--and when I did--it was usually awkwardly because I was trying to be anyone except myself and always trying to 'tread water' impression-wise.

But this is one of many areas where I finally let God work with me, nudge me, even lecture me about how the important thing is to make others feel comfortable and to listen to them. Then hooray! Eventually He set me free in that area, well, at least 90 percent freer and that is huge when you consider my former ridiculous, selfish hang-ups

That's only something a huge God could do within me... and my, my,my. I'm so thankful He did.


“I wondered how many people there were in the world who suffered, and continued to suffer, because they could not break out from their own web of shyness and reserve, and in their blindness and folly built up a great distorted wall in front of them that hid the truth.” 
― Daphne du MaurierRebecca

“Shyness is just egoism out of its depth.” 
― Penelope Keith


This afternoon I finally watched last week's season opener of Bones and oh my. Even though I'd already read about what happened (and felt grateful this time that I had), I still cried when it did. I had to remind myself that it's only a tv show (it's only a tv show, it's ---) and that I'm 55, very much an adult and not a big baby.  :)

But still----


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Elizabeth said...

I spent many years of my life the same way Debra! It is so freeing to not live that way!

Anonymous said...

Boy do I identify with this post. I was always an introvert and super duper shy. Thank goodness I am not shy anymore. I am still an introvert but that's cool with me.

Terri Cheney said...

One of the lessons from my childhood was that I went through a spell of awkward shyness. I'm still shy but I didn't handle it nicely then, you see. So my mom, who could be terribly blunt and hurtful about many things was very wise in dealing with it. She noticed and explained to me that my dad was a shy person. I remember laughing because Daddy could talk to anyone at all and did for the longest times! Mama assured me that he was indeed very shy but he'd taught himself to ask about the other person and let them talk about themselves and gradually his shyness had taken a back seat because he started to be genuinely interested in people.

I did overcome my shyness and was quite active in my community in the county where we lived before...and made a load of friends too. When people would ask about me I'd always say, "I'm shy," and they'd laugh as though I'd told a huge joke. I didn't stop being shy, I just learned to cope with it. "Affliction" as Amy put it about Beth in Little Women, lol.

I still prefer to sit back and watch and at the last synagogue we attended the Rabbi approached me two or three times, asking if people had been friendly to me. I explained that I was shy but enjoyed every one who had time for conversation. I'd gotten a little rusty over these years of being mostly at home, you see, but managed to bring myself forward and met some of the loveliest people. Well God has me mostly at home once again but I am remembering that second lesson in stepping out of my own self. I haven't stopped being shy, but I've stopped letting it be an excuse.

Bonnie said...

I'm so glad you met her!