Recently a friend and I were discussing how sometimes when we’re young we can be shy. Then he said something one might consider unconventional at first.
“I believe that shyness is really just an act of rebellion.”
That set the gears of my mind rolling. I’d never given it much thought before. If I’d been shy when he said that, I might have been offended.
But then if I had been shy at the time, that conversation probably wouldn’t have happened.
As I digested what my friend said, I came up with three distinct observations as to why he was right.
First, shy people rebel against the hurt someone gave them.
The beginning of ten years of crippling shyness in my own life was the result of being shamed in public. I was in a Bible class on the first day at a new (private Christian) school. I was 12, so life was pretty awkward anyway. The teacher, Mr. Ford, instructed us to turn to 2 Chronicles something. I wasn’t a Bible scholar at the time, so I flipped through my Gideon New Testament in vain and muttered, “Let’s see if this Bible has Chronicles in it.”
A split second after I said it, not even loud enough for people in the next row to hear, I heard these words sounding as though they came from the barrel of a cannon.
“YOU BE QUIET!”
He added an angry, wrinkled brow, glaring eyes, and a finger point so I’d be sure to know he meant me.
That event wounded me deeply. I’d never been called out like that before, at least not that I could recall. So inside my confused and bleeding ego, I resolved to avoid talking, since that is what got me in trouble in the first place.
When we get hurt, our natural line of defense is to build a wall to prevent future hurt. We rebel against the pain because it’s an invasion of our contentment, our happiness, and our idealistic view of ourselves.
The second observation is that shy people rebel against the person who hurt them.
I don’t remember liking Mr. Ford much after that. In fact, I shut him out of my thoughts pretty much altogether. I don’t remember a thing he said that year other than those three words and maybe the opening question he started the year with: “Why Bible Class?”
Nobody likes people who cause them pain. This is especially true when the person doesn’t have a big investment in your well-being. It’s not hard to avoid someone like that. But if the one who stuck that verbal knife in your chest and twisted it mercilessly is a family member or a coworker you see on a continual basis, your pain is ever present. Forgive him if you can. If you can’t, you rebel against any happiness that could possibly occur while you’re with him. It’s your quiet way of punishing him since God has let him go on living.
The third observation is shy people who don’t recover from their pain eventually rebel against everyone.
If you’ve been hurt and hold tightly to the pain, you build a cocoon around yourself that blinds you to your needs. Humans are created to be social creatures. That why we have mouths, ears, and hearts. We can find our deepest joys when we have good friends to laugh and cry with us. We learn many things from people who have done what we haven’t. We get a powerful sense of satisfaction when we pass our knowledge to someone younger who wants advice. We feel on top of the world when the one we loves agrees to marry us.
If we rebel against people in general, we won’t taste the good things relationships can bring.
In conclusion, remember this. Don’t let an emotional wound cause you to travel this far down the road of rebellion. Don’t miss the good because you can’t stand the pain. The truth is life is filled with joy and pain. You can’t know which is in store for the day. But if you want a rich life, you’ll have to risk getting hurt, working through it, forgiving, and moving on. Develop a thick skin that shields you from being offended, not armor that prevents you from loving anyone.
If you’re a quiet rebel, tear down those walls you’ve built. Do it now. Find someone qualified to help if the walls are thick. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be free.