Saturday, June 27, 2009

God's Grace for Social Situations

My Oswald Chambers devotion today said:

“One of the greatest proofs that you are drawing on the grace of God is that you can be totally humiliated before others without displaying even the slightest trace of anything but His grace.”

I love this because it reminds us that with God we can be free from all that scares us: embarrassment, being judged, having people talk about us behind our back, being smirked at, and being patronized. As the youngest of six, an introvert, and a social misfit, I’ve experienced, as I’m sure many of you have, all of the above.

Some of you who followed my old blog on WisMoms know about my past alcohol addiction. One of the reasons I took to alcohol so readily—as many others have--is because of shyness and the discomfort of being in my own skin. Alcohol took me out of that skin and into a world where I could be confidently social. When I was under the influence, people and social situations didn’t scare me; sober, they terrified me.

In the early days of my sobriety that fear of social situations made it almost impossible to be with people. While at a social function, I counted the minutes before I could leave and return to the safety and anonymity of my car. If my husband left my side, I went into an internal panic. But as I accepted Christ and began to live a life under His authority and grace, I began to be healed of my social phobia and become comfortable—not in my skin, but in the skin I now wore with God.

God blessed me with a reporting job where I learned how to go into groups and walk up to people and ask them questions. I met complete strangers in their homes or over coffee and asked them personal questions about their lives and experiences. And I did it all sober, and through the grace of God. Today, I can easily talk to strangers and, through a reliance on God, hold my own at a social gathering. That doesn’t mean I’ve become a social butterfly! Hardly! I still prefer one-on-one time with people and love an empty answering machine!

I admit that some situations still scare me, like gatherings with extended family or parties where alcohol is a factor (not because I’m tempted to drink, but because I’m tempted to judge those who are drinking and loathe the general drinking atmosphere). I often moderate my blood pressure and calm my nerves on the way to these gatherings by reading my Bible in the front seat of the car as we travel to the event (If I’m driving, I listen to Christian radio).

For those of us who have fluctuating comfort levels with social situations, and as we enter the 4th of July weekend where there will be many family gatherings, graduation parties, company and church picnics, etc., I pray that the above quote from Chambers, along with God’s grace, will alleviate any fear and apprehension we may have. It’s always a comfort to remember that if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31). There is no greater joy than knowing that God understands our weaknesses and is always right there by our side.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:2-5

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

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