“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)
I have always considered myself a “private” person. I have never desired the center of attention or felt the need for anyone’s approval. I simply place a high value on personal privacy. I realize that is strange, in this world of “reality” everything, transparency, and where “nobody’s business” is “everybody’s business.” Nevertheless, I am reserved and only take part in conversations and social interactions when I believe I can add something productive. Through the years, because of my lack of responsiveness, I have been branded “too serious,” “stuck up,” “introvert,” “loner,” “timid,” “taciturn,” and my personal favorite “aloof.” The truth is, I deemed it “minding my own business” and I never thought much about it until one of my Seminary professors posed this interesting question:
Bonita, despite your being a very private person. Is your reserve born of pain, fear, or preference? He then added the comment, “You seem to have a depth of self to share. I trust you will find a way to communicate it that suits you.”
This is my way of communicating the answer to that question. First of all, I am neither shy nor timid. I am, however, somewhat modest, reticent, taciturn, reclusive, and yes, at times, even aloof.
Is my reserve born of pain? Like many life stories — mine is no “Cinderella” tale. It has been filled with passion and pain. I am the product of alcoholic parents who married too young; divorced too soon; and, who abandoned my younger siblings to the foster care system when I was eight. The pain of being placed in the foster system; however, was only felt by my siblings because my paternal grandmother rescued and raised me. I can attest; however, to the severe pain I experienced when my grandmother passed away 10 year later, seemingly when I needed her most. My pain deepened further when my father (who lived with us) died 3 months after his mother’s death at the age of 40–clearly my heart ached. The hurt continued when the marriage I believed would last forever, ended in divorce and shortly afterwards, I developed a skin disorder that is robbing my skin of pigment. How can I say these things don’t hurt? Of course, they are painful! But none of this is the cause of my reserve.
What about fear? Am I afraid, and if so, what am I afraid of? If the truth be told, I once was afraid of many things: what could be, what might have been, what may never be, rejection, acceptance, success, failure, of living, of dying, even afraid of fear. But today a mature faith in God has replaced all my fears and I say a resounding NO. My reserve is not because of fear.
My reserve is my preference. I choose privacy. It is my conscious decision to hold things I consider important, close to me. I see no reason to defend, justify, or make excuses for being comfortable in my own skin. I enjoy being alone as much as the company of others. The concerns of my world are serious and important to me and yes, sometimes I am reticent. But one thing is certain, as the Professor alluded to, I do have a depth of self to share that is neither born of pain nor fear, but rather is RESERVED for the One who knows me best — God alone. This is not mysterious–it is simply what I my prefer.