To the Woman Who Intimidated Me: Thanks

Life + Faith

Some people deserve their flowers for unexpected reasons.

I was new(ish). In one of my first adulty decisions, I’d left the church I’d grown up in and joined a new one. My previous church home was a fine and lovely place, I was simply the only one my age in the small congregation. I mean that quite literally – there was no one else in the entire church navigating their 20s and I was at a point when I needed to connect with other people traversing that particular decade. Off I went. intimidated

I found myself in the place I still call my church home and went alone. At the time it was, itself, quite small. Maybe 70 people on a good Sunday. This weird thing kept happening to me there – people kept talking to me. As someone who was still a card carrying member of the “I’m shy please don’t look at me” club, this was very disconcerting. This one guy I didn’t know very well knew I was a singer and asked me to join the worship team. I ever so politely and I’m sure quietly declined. (fun fact…I married that guy quite a bit later). Then someone else asked me to join the greeting team. “Oh no,” I thought, “then I will always be expected to talk to strangers…at a volume that they can hear me. How frightening.” So I gave the excuse that I couldn’t because I would be joining the worship team. And that’s what I did. My reasoning was that, even though I’d be in front of people I wouldn’t necessarily have to interact with them one-on-one so I’d be safe there. #Logic

There I went to the worship team and, after a horrible audition (I still am a pretty awful auditioner to this day) they still had enough faith in me to keep me around. That’s where I got to know her. She was tall (I will grant you that pretty much anyone who stands next to me can appear tall, but this was legitimate), gregarious, and outspoken. If something wasn’t right – a note, a harmony, a rhythm, she would say it. She didn’t back down from making sure things were as excellent as things could be or from challenging mediocrity. 

Ya’ll. I. Was. Terrified. She was so intimidating to me. Part of me, the part that tried to hide by being very still and quiet in any given room, was perplexed by her demeanor. “Why,” I thought, “does she make such a fuss about things? Dis tew much!” My tendency was much more to be go-with-the-flow and this was not that.  I was so uncomfortable I thought about bowing out of the team, to be quite honest. I didn’t – and that was a pretty brave decision for who I was at the time *retroactively pats self on the back.*

Here’s the real deal – which I didn’t realize until years later: she was not intimidating. I was intimidated. There’s a big difference. 

Whatever discomfort I felt was born from my own insecurities and actually had nothing to do with her. To this day, she is someone I am incredibly blessed to call my friend – someone who is strong, honest, outspoken and truly one of the most caring individuals one could ever hope to meet. She truly helped me grow to be more a bit more confident and own my space – and it wasn’t because of anything she said about my issues directly to me but, rather, the freedom she felt in being herself – which inspired me to find some freedom of my own. 

I was intimidated because I saw qualities and competencies in her that I did not have and her presence made me acutely aware of my own shortcomings. Therefore, my defense was to shove the blame of intimidation to her so I didn’t have to own the responsibility for my personal development. Whew. That hit me all the way upside my head when I realized it. 

It makes me think of 2 Timothy 1:7
7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

When the spirit of fear is present, especially due to a person’s presence (this, of course, excludes them being legitimately threatening or some such craziness) the timidity you feel is not yours. It does not own you and, therefore, you do not have to own it. You have power in the situation – even if your mind is tricking you into thinking you are powerless. Self-discipline is right there for you to reach out to, some versions also say “self-control.” You can control your response, both in behavior and thought. 

If you find yourself being intimidating, stop and take stock. Are they actually intimidating or are you intimidated? Why? Where are you feeling inadequate? Identify it and then realize you have the power to change that, to stand up and to own your space in the situation. Use that feeling as a catalyst, not an obstacle. Be inspired to embrace the confidence that was always available to you and let go of the intimidation. 

Have you ever been intimidated by someone? What did it teach you? Speak on it. 

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