Anna’s Day 5: One of my anxieties

So I get nervous if I know I’m about to attend anything that involves me and a bunch of other women. It can be anything – showers, girls’ nights out, bachelorette parties, happy hours, shopping trips, volunteer activities, you name it. If it’s more than 3 women, I’m uncomfortable. Automatically.

And I’m not sure why.

(This fact about me is ironic, since all of my close friends are girls.)

I could blame it on the fact that I’m an only child. Or the fact that I’m introverted. But blaming in general is a bad idea, and besides, neither really carries much weight in this discussion. It’s not like I’m incapable socially, and being introverted only means you get energized by being alone. It has nothing to do with liking large groups of people or not.

So since I can rule those out, at least partially, I hope this braindump called my 5 of 7in7 will give me more insight, because I’d like to no longer feel like a junior higher when it comes to this issue.

Here’s a tangible example:

This morning I went to a bridal shower. And the truth is, I had a pleasant time. I was fun to catch up with a few gals I hadn’t seen in a while and to engage in conversation with some I’d never met. The company was lovely, and the celebration worthwhile! I should have anticipated that, because it almost always is. But I was still so uneasy beforehand that, being about five minutes early, I parked, got on Instagram, and avoided going into the house until the designated 10:00 arrival time.

I’ve mentioned this anxiety before to a friend, who graciously tried to help me diagnose it. I told her I’ve had the same best girl friend since I was 5, and until I was 22, and we were almost inseparable. We went to school together; our parents worked together; we spent summers together; we were in bands, choirs, student councils, yearbook, and various other classes together. Her friends were my friends, except for in a few circles – like her youth group and my club volleyball teams.

Let’s camp on one specific volleyball team for a minute. When I was 17, I found out during the last tournament of the season that one of my teammates had been viciously attacking me behind my back…nearly all season long. My male coach did not know how to handle it, so he kept his mouth shut. Brilliant plan. It came as no surprise that the gossip/slander/whatever you want to call it became too much for the team psyche to handle. My coach finally confronted the girl, and the truth was revealed to me as well. A few of my teammates apologized, saying they shouldn’t have gone along with what everyone else was doing. I appreciated the sentiments, but I was young and wanted nothing more than to quit right then and there. My parents made me stick it out. Good for them.

Unfortunately, I think that experience taught me several things:

1. Girls will gossip.

2. Girls will be vicious.

3. Girls are to be avoided – at least in large packs.

Now, I know that many other girls have experienced MUCH worse things than this. Bullying behind one’s back is one thing. Bullying to one’s face, or for years, or via the internet is another. But I do think I carried away from that experience a simple thought that I shouldn’t have:

Girls, in general, can’t be trusted.

And what is the consequence of this simple thought? I take a long time to open up. I don’t let too many people in. And in the end, I let fear and uncertainty dictate my emotions and behaviors.

Which, in the end, is totally my loss.

Because the truth is I’m not supposed to fear anything in Christ. He has made me more than a conqueror and has taught me that there is no fear in love.

Sure, some girls aren’t trustworthy. But my God is. He’s the One who has my life in His hands. He’s the One who heals any hurt that comes. He’s the One who can give me joy no matter what the situation.

And He’s a God who can reveal sin through a writing exercise like this! He can show me just how self-preserving, self-interested, and self-exalting I am. But He can also take a self-protecting heart of stone and make it a selfless heart of flesh! He can instruct me in new ways. He can show me His heart, which overflows with love for others. Indeed, what does His perfect Word say about love?

“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

May this be my prayer from now on when such anxiety tempts:

Lord, drive away all my fears in the wake of Your steadfast love. Give me Your eyes and Your heart, and strip me of my own.

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