The Perfect Summer

When I was sixteen, my parents sent me to Gold Beach, OR to spend the summer working in my aunt and uncle’s restaurants. They owned a dinner house and a drive-through restaurant that were both located near the beach.

I was painfully shy, didn’t make friends easily, and was terrified of talking to just about anyone. After failing the speech class my parents forced me to take my sophomore year (in the hopes it would help curb my shyness), banishing me to my Aunt and Uncle’s for the summer somehow made sense to them.

I remember thinking that my life was over and wondering how I was ever going to make it through the summer stuck in a God-forsaken place like Gold Beach. I told my mom there was no way I would allow her to force me into unpaid restaurant labor for the summer – then I got on the bus that would transport me to the best summer of my life.

My Aunt and Uncle treated me well and seemed to understand me. My cousin Kathy was my polar opposite, a cute, blonde, perky and popular straight ‘A’ student who made friends easily. But we were the same age and, for some strange reason, we hit it off and got along very well that summer. I had a new friend.

We did everything together - movies, beach, shopping, each others hair and nails. As the summer progressed, I began to see how much I was missing by letting my shyness control my life. I watched Kathy interact with customers at the restaurant. She showed me how to wait tables and take orders and in the process of being ‘forced’ to talk with people, I began to see my shyness for what it was - the wall I hid behind to hide my feelings of ugliness and inferiority. I wanted to be like other girls at school who had friends and boyfriends and went to football games and parties, but I just didn’t know how.

But learning to be a waitress and talking to people that summer changed all that. As I became comfortable talking to customers, I began to notice changes in other areas of my life. I was learning about me, and who I was, and who God made me to be. I began to stand up straight and look people in the eye. I began to smile more and was amazed that people smiled back.

As I began to accept myself for who I was I began to actually like the person I saw in the mirror – not an easy thing for many teenage girls. As my self-confidence grew, my entire world opened up. I expressed my new found personality in many ways. I began to dress differently and make new friends. I laughed, took risks, attended parties, and even started dating. In short, I began to live life fully.

In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief (fear, shyness, worry) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I am still shy but since that summer, I refuse to be crippled by shyness. God gave me that summer to help me discover the part of me that He always knew was there – the part I was unable to see.

I knew you before I formed you in your mothers womb. Jeremiah 1:5


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