One Thanksgiving Day quite some time ago, I spilled turkey broth on my foot as I was taking “Tom” out of the oven. It wasn’t his fault, it was mine. Company was coming within a couple of hours and I was in excruciating pain. What should I do while enduring the pain as we prepared to go to the Emergency Care? Yes, it was that bad. I found myself praying for others. I prayed for those in pain. I thought of every kind of pain people might be enduring and prayed for God to touch them. I ended up praying for people all across the country in burn units. I will never know if anyone else was touched that day, but I was. After having the burns treated, I finished up with dinner and enjoyed the day with our thirteen or so guests and later another fabulous meal at my mom and dad’s house. Lesson learned: Give what you need.
Praying for others when you need prayer yourself is not the only time we can give what we need. I have found myself in situations many times (though it is embarrassing to admit) when I was uncomfortable in a social situation. Uncomfortable is not the word at all, “terrified,” “miserable” are closer matches, “frozen” is probably more accurate. You probably have never felt this way: You want to be a part of the conversation, but while thinking of what to say and practicing how it might sound, you find the subject has changed while you weren’t listening.
I remember being in the teacher’s lounge when I taught in public school and not being able to think of anything to say, especially when there were two or more people in the group. I just sat there, as they smoked and talked. Once a teacher was leaving and she turned to the other teacher remaining and said, “Sharon will talk to you if you talk to her.” Now what did that mean? I felt pretty “uncomfortable,” having them speak of me in the third person, let me tell you. The teacher was stepping in to be a bridge for us so that we could start a conversation when she left, but it was still embarrassing to me to have my weakness brought out.
Even if conversation seems to come easy to some people, and they seem like the most confident people in the world, they need you to be interested in what they are saying. You can meet their need by trying to find something in common with them. This places value on them. By being self-conscious around the other teachers, I was not meeting their need for conversation and affirmation.
I now know there are many people who are self-conscious and have difficulty thinking of what to say in social situations. Even if we have this same need ourselves, we can reach out to them and help them feel a part of the group. We can ask a question to help draw them into conversation. This is not an easy skill to develop, but with patience and prayer, it can be developed so that we become need-meeters.
Self-confidence is simply being comfortable with who you are. It is knowing that you are valuable to God and that you have something of value He wants you to share with others. I can show interest and learn from what others have to say and still be a valuable part of the interaction even without being a big talker.
We are more valuable to God and others than we realize. As we are in Him, and He in us, we have what others need. He will show us more and more how to meet these needs, and He will meet every need we could possibly have in the process.
When you need prayer, pray for others.
When you need confidence, help others feel confident.
When you need a friend, be a friend.
When you need money, give money.
When you need more of God, help others find God.
When you need love, give love.
When you need a smile, give a smile.