I’ve learned that shyness looks different dependent upon the person suffering from it. As a child I would run and hide from embarrassing situations. As an adult I just avoided them all together. I cannot tell you how many times I turned down my friend’s offer to go out because I was feeling really self conscience that day. I had a roommate once who would invite friends over and I would hang out in my bedroom assuming I’d be intruding upon the visit should I venture out. Plus the social awkwardness of not knowing them and fear of rejection kept me behind the closed door too. Whatever the lie we tell ourselves God is able to deliver us from this bondage.
I tried for years to deliver myself. I recognized my dysfunction. I read books, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, I joined self-help support groups, I practiced affirmations and positive self-talk and I’d make small little steps forward then one big leap back. I’d have a really good night hanging out with a bunch of strangers but the next morning fear would seize me and I could barely squeeze out a hello never mind making eye contact. Over and over again I tried to fix me and I failed. I don’t know about you but I hate failure. It sends me right back to my hole with my tail tucked between my legs. It’s a vicious cycle that sends me into cynicism and bitterness. It was during this time of deep self-evaluation that I started to see God’s hand being extended.
It was as I was coming off of the conference high and realizing that my life was still nothing to write home about that I acknowledged my shyness was holding me back from living life. I had all this new information about health and healing but I had no voice in which to speak it out loud. I decided I was going to force change upon myself. I had been reading online about different alternative medicine institutes in China, India, and Thailand. I said to myself, Tracy you will go there and work and learn and you will be a different person when you return. I told my friends about my plans that I was going to quit my job and go back to school. I felt that if I had a degree then my voice would follow; if I had credentials then people would want to listen. I was in a state of total desperation. This is usually the state one must reach in order to hear God’s voice.
So my plans were to go off and study Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I figured about 5 years overseas would prepare me to return to the states to open up a Healing Hostel. I had fallen in love with the idea of hostelling when I went out to Oregon and Washington last year. Hostels are the cheapest option when traveling. You share accommodations and thus pay only a fraction of what you would for a hotel. Plus they are a great way to meet people from all over the world (if you can muster up the courage to chat with them). I wanted to create a similar environment but as a means of providing a healing retreat for people who couldn’t afford to go to expensive wellness centers. I wanted to create a sanctuary of sorts for those who needed to step away from their everyday lives to re-educate themselves and to reset their bodies and mind. Most people don’t know how to feed themselves according to the way the body is designed and I wanted to teach them how to do so in the most natural way possible.
Part of that big dream would be enough land to organically grow all the food we used in our programs. I wanted to make agriculture part of the program. We’re so far removed from the skills of our ancestors and I feel the ability to grow our own food is crucial in understanding our connection to what we eat. What you put in the soil also goes into you. Also if you can grow much of your own food in the summer then that means lower food bills and money saved!
So with all of this swimming in my head God sent a messenger to call me in. My brother is the most unlikely candidate. He has had a hard life – drugs, gangs, and violence. So when he started going to church a calmer, more patient man began to emerge. This astounded me. From being ready to kill your enemies to wanting to give them bible studies – only God can do that. But my heart was hardened. My brother tried for at least a month to get me to go to church with him. I was quite content with my version of God. The God of the Bible didn’t interest me having had a few bad experiences with religion in the past I wanted no part of it. But God didn’t give up on me and my brother came and told me that the pastor’s wife was an herbalist. This piqued my interest. I had been reading about herbs and their healing properties ever since my MS diagnosis – thus my interest in Chinese Medicine. He said she held classes once a month at the church. I thought maybe I’ll go but never made it. Then a few weeks later he came to tell me about the beautiful camp the church owned and that this weekend everyone was going up for a family retreat. It sounded nice but I still was not interested. I didn’t know those people and I really didn’t want to hang out with “church people”. Then he said the herbalist was going to take her class on an herb walk to identify the useful herbs around the camp. It amazes me how God uses the very things you’re interested in to draw you to Him. I had just been looking into joining a class in northern Maine that did just that. It cost a lot of money so when Cody told me about this free class I was in!
I talked about that weekend at Camp Lawroweld in my very first post. I said that was the weekend I began to wrestle with God. He was seriously tugging at my heart. I had big plans for myself and whatever He had planned couldn’t be as good as my dreams. That’s where I was SO wrong. Let me tell you that the past year has far exceeded anything I could have planned for myself. He has provided opportunities for me to learn about Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine right here in Maine. He’s provided opportunities for me to learn more about organic farming through a local farmer in my church. I’ve been connected to a group of doctors who are looking to start a sanitarium here in Maine – something very close to the healing hostel I wanted to create. I’ve been asked to help start a vegan restaurant right here in Lewiston (I’M SO EXCITED!!!) and I’m working with a team of health evangelists to start an educational outreach center in the same building – ironically it’s an old pizza hut. Plus my church has asked me to serve as their health ministries leader. Now my plans was for 5 years from now to be doing something like this. God said no I have work for you to do right now. “God doesn’t called the qualified – He qualifies the called.” On top of all that God has lead me to the most loving and wonderful man who is now my husband. Damon pushes me everyday outside my comfort-zone and challenges me to trust God’s promises that He will give me His courage, reminding me that when I am weak He is strong.
So what about the shyness? Well the cure began with Bible studies. I began to go with my husband, who at the time was just my friend, to help teach people to study their Bible. The first month I was silent, just listening and praying that no one would ask me a question. Then it just happened. As I surrendered more and more and studied more and more I found myself speaking up and sharing what I’d learned. Fear had melted and I wasn’t even thinking about being rejected or judged. I just started thinking about serving others and my hesitancy was no more. It was never a conscience effort on my part. As I focused on Jesus He removed all fears. And funny thing is I didn’t realize it had happened until months later. I was going door to door doing community health surveys and teach classes when it dawned on me that I was speaking to complete strangers in their homes and not freaking out!! Now I’m not saying I never have moments of shyness or fear anymore but I notice those moments only come when I’m not connected to God. When He and I are tight there is no fear. It is the most amazing feeling in the world and I could never go back to my old life. Eating right and exercising can deliver you from the chains of obesity but only God can free your mind to love the world.
Next week I’ll tell you more about the lifestyle center and what we are going to be doing there. It’s all really exciting stuff!!! Love you ❤