“I’d like a loaf of Chelsea’s bread please.” Immediately I realized my mistake as the employee behind the counter smiled at me. It’s French bread, not Chelsea’s bread. The deli is called Chelsea’s—the lady knows that. Why can’t I talk properly? My face flushed as I stumbled over my words—completely mortified by the simple mistake. I was 8 or 9 years old, just a shy Texas girl asking for a loaf of bread in a bakery. A simple task to most, but a very big test of self-confidence to me. I paid for the bread and walked back to the station wagon where Mama was waiting,
Even more than 2 decades later I can remember feeling so ashamed. It’s laughable now, but yet so sad that I was that afraid of people back then. I always avoided answering the phone because I didn’t know who it was and I wasn’t sure I could handle talking to a stranger. What if I said the wrong thing? Constantly afraid of the words that might come out of my mouth I opted for saying too little rather than too much.
I don’t know where the deep-rooted idea that people were always judging me came from. It certainly didn’t come from my experiences at home. I was safe there—I was even quite silly there. But throw me into any unfamiliar setting and I became as quiet and unobtrusive as a paperweight. Maybe you notice its existence, but usually you don’t have a need for it. And certainly no desire to talk to it.
So that was me…Amy the paperweight. Yep you people go have fun with your small talk and I’ll just sit here making sure these papers don’t blow away…in this non-windy room…
I’ve come a long way since then. My identity has a firm foundation. I wouldn’t really say I have strong self-confidence, but rather I have the appearance of confidence because of my faith in God and a partial lack of caring about other people’s opinions. Not a complete lack of caring, mind you, just a partial one. I’ve learned to be bold and vulnerable. I’ve learned to take risks and I don’t always succeed.
Yet…quite frequently I still get intimidated. Despite all of my accomplishments and character development I’m still me. I’m still the same person who was that terrified little girl putting in a bread order. I still have a constant fear of failure and doing the wrong thing. Why is it that we can make so much progress in some areas of our lives and yet certain situations bring out the previous versions of ourselves?
That’s where I’ve been at today—feeling like I should be writing stories, but not knowing what stories to write. Caffeinated chatterbox dialogue in my brain going I don’t know what I’m supposed to write. Who’s going to read it? Who even wants to read what I write? Who even wants to be my friend? I’m not the right woman to inspire other women. I’m just kind of a weird social outcast who doesn’t know how to talk to people. Or at least even if I talk to them they probably think I’m annoying. Am I annoying? I don’t know what to write about…
Yeeesh…that inner dialogue took a turn for the negative! But sometimes it does. Even to the most positive and optimistic of us. The enemy likes to remind us of the inadequate person we are or were. He likes to bring up past mistakes to prevent us from moving forward. But we are not chained to the past—the past has been redeemed.
“Remember Chelsea’s Deli???” was whispered in my ear this afternoon. Not literally, but hopefully you know what I mean. In the midst of feeling inadequate to write, I was reminded of that prime example of me being afraid and stumbling over my words and not doing a good job and failing…
…but hold on. I didn’t do a perfect job, but I didn’t fail. My mother gave me the task of buying a loaf of bread, and I bought a loaf of bread. The words I said didn’t matter—the employee knew why I was there. It didn’t matter that I was afraid or embarrassed—I still walked out of that store with a deliciously hot loaf of (Chelsea’s) French bread. So yes, Enemy, I remember Chelsea’s Deli. And now I remember that maybe my exact words don’t always matter as long as I’m speaking in obedience. I don’t have to be perfect, and I don’t have to be afraid of being imperfect. If my Heavenly Father has a task set out for me then it will be accomplished in spite of my short-comings.
Is there anything you’ve been called to do but are stalling for some reason? Maybe you are afraid, maybe lazy, maybe distracted? Look to the root of the stalling and try to determine what is being whispered in your ear. Quite possibly the very thing that the enemy is trying to use to hold you back can propel you forward!