I gazed in envy as my older sister excitedly showed me the many pasalubong (presents from loved ones who came from the states) she got. Our uncle and his family came home from the states, and my father who was close to him, and my older sister who inherited our father’s charm, went to welcome them and meet my uncle’s wife and only daughter.
We were just kids then, but I can never forget how I suffered from being too shy. I was petrified to meet new people and people whom we hadn’t seen for a long time, even though they were relations. I couldn’t get myself to take the step to go near them, or even to be seen by them or catch their attention.
My sister excitedly told me how our cousin who was born and grew up in the states spoke and acted, what her likes and dislikes were in the food that was served, etc. And as I listened, my heart was sad because I would have loved to see her, too, and talk to her. But I was too shy, and so, they went back to the states without me ever meeting her.
One time, while I was staying in my grandmother’s house, my aunt came home from Manila for a vacation. As our relatives gathered around her in the living room downstairs, I was trying my best to hide upstairs. Then I heard my aunt ask for me. Somehow, I was able to escape quietly and run to our house.
But please don’t get me wrong. I was peculiarly shy in such cases but not in performances in school or in the community. From grade school to high school, I emceed, recited poems and declamations, joined quiz and spelling bees, writing and reading contests, and participated in dance groups and other activities. I did all those things with gusto, because I wanted to excel.
But when I was in close contact with people, especially those I look up to, I felt awkward, inadequate, uncomfortable. I didn’t know what to say or how to say something properly so that I wouldn’t offend the one I was with. I was always terrified that I might say the wrong thing and make a fool of myself.
Maybe these were some of the reasons why I did my best to succeed in school and later, in my career, so I could gain confidence and muster enough courage to be with people. Please don’t get me wrong again. In my work, I had to be with different kinds of people, and I did that with practiced finesse, because I was good at performing.
But in the deeper sense, I knew I wasn’t so genuine and sincere. And maybe some people saw beyond the surface that was why they were quite intimidated by my personality.
The first time I attended a gala dinner of the Chamber of Cosmetics Industry of the Philippines, I was taken aback at how they were all dazzlingly dressed up in beautiful ball gowns, the kind of ensemble fit for a king’s banquet, while I went there in a simple cocktail dress. Most of them were owners of companies and right away, I felt inadequate and unsure how to properly blend in.
Then, one of them, and who was then slowly becoming my friend, came near with a saccharine smile, took me by the arm and gently whispered, “Just be yourself.”
So that was it! I hadn’t known how to be myself, so I had to act out, to perform. I hadn’t known how to be comfortable in my own skin.
I didn’t know how to be myself. Who was “myself”? She was just a mouse scared to be discovered.
But the Lord Jesus, He discovered me. Now, wherever I go and whoever I am with, I can be comfortable in my own skin, because of what He has done and given to me:
He stripped me off of all that is not true and clothed me with the real thing: a child of God – forgiven, loved and cherished. He has bought me with the most precious price, His life. Now I am His. This is my true identity.
I am a daughter of the King of kings and Lord of lords, there’s no reason to be ashamed or to feel inadequate. And there’s no reason to boast to gain confidence and respect. His Word of Truth is intact in my heart and it’s what brings me sturdy and quiet confidence.
Most Excellent Teachings
He has taught me the most precious lessons; in Him is the best classroom of all. His teachings of the balance between gentleness and wisdom, of a meek and quiet spirit, of always being true – at heart, in speech and deeds – are with me, clothing me. And that is what the world will see.
If before I had to put on glamorous clothes and jewelry, and put up a great performance in my work to gain confidence and respect, now, the Lord has clothed me with humility. And I truly learned that before honor is humility (Prov. 15: 33).
He has made me into a new creation: all the old things have passed away; He has made all things new (2 Cor. 5: 17).
Strength and honour are her clothing… She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. (Prov. 31: 25, 26)