The crisp air shook me wide awake that velvet black night my friend and I walked into Sally Clarkson’s house for her Christmas tea. I didn’t know anyone except Sally (a little) and the friend who brought me. Most of the women in attendance were homeschooling moms and members of her monthly Bible study. I was neither, but I didn’t let that stop me enjoying some delicious food in a warm, relaxed setting.
As the evening progressed and my friend mingled with others, I nibbled desserts and looked for a place to sit for Sally’s devotional. Since there was no room in the living room, I sat next to people I didn’t know on her spiral staircase overlooking the living room. I made small talk with a few but didn’t really click with anyone new. When Sally began her lesson, I curled up comfortably with her words and felt genuine encouragement reach all the corners of my soul. Later that night as my friend and I drove away, I felt satisfied and content. The evening could have been ripe with awkwardness, but I had an enjoyable time.
Let me tell you something, however: This isn’t always how I feel after leaving a group of women. Sometimes I leave feeling more like I’ve been to a funeral than a party, part of my confidence dying right along with my good time.
And I’m tired of it.
I’ve spent nearly 20 years as a military wife, and I can’t begin to count all the social situations I’ve bloomed and withered during. I’ve been in rooms full of familiar women and never-met-before women. Extroverts and introverts. Older mentors and younger mentees. Easy going people and military brass. Sometimes my conversations flow easily and I get along beautifully with folks. Sometimes I don’t gel with them at all, so I scoot toward the peripheral and suddenly become captivated by the pictures on the wall or the contents of my purse. Other times I feel downright awkward and keep checking to see if I have toilet paper hanging out of my skirt. Or maybe a little broccoli in my teeth.
This is nothing unusual; we all experience uncomfortable social settings from time to time. But here is where I get into trouble: When I don’t click with others or feel “at home” in a room, I sometimes turn inward and convince myself I must be a problem of the loser variety. Not only is this a straight up lie, it’s a poor choice guaranteed to steal my good time and confidence.
Has anybody been there but me?
When we give into all those inward thoughts, we might believe it’s best to hole up in our homes or hotel rooms or hearts. But doing this guarantees we’re traveling to an isolated, dangerous part of town that keeps us looking inward rather than outward.
God desires for us to walk in the knowledge that we are dearly loved and already treasured. And heaven knows I want to rally behind all His glorious desires for me rather than raise a roadblock. So, whether you’re about to attend a conference, a PTO meeting, or your friend’s wedding, don’t get lost in no man’s land. Instead, remember these things for a healthier perspective:
1. Pray Yourself Up Before You Leave and While You’re There. Before the wheels of my van leave the driveway or the wheels of the plane leave the runway, I’m already asking God to protect my heart from the Enemy’s suggestions while fortifying it with His truth.I repeat Colossians 2:17 to myself “…the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Your reality is in Him, and He says you are completely worthy, talented, loved, and wanted today. If anything else snakes its way into your thoughts, take it to Jesus. That is the only way to see yourself not overly or underly, but in reality.
2. We’re all small. We all need Jesus to bridge the gap between ourselves and God. Everyone does, including that conference speaker, the PTO president, and the business CEO.
3. Your attendance has purpose. It isn’t random but a divinely scheduled appointment. God places us in strategic places at strategic times, and He is using your presence there for your good.
The next time you’re in a room full of women, refuse to arm wrestle the enemy over your identity. Don’t hand him your confidence. Walk with purpose and your head held high because no matter how completely comfortable or uncomfortable you feel, you are complete in Christ.
With or without the toilet paper or broccoli.