Overcoming timidity

Think of timidity. Do small animals come to mind? Perhaps very young children? Maybe even an occasional adult who is shy about meeting others or trying anything new? Timidity appears to be a guileless and sometimes rather charming trait that induces sympathy, reassurance, and abundant pats on the head.

When a friend suggested that timidity might indicate hostility, I almost dismissed the thought. After all, what could be hostile about the timid, who aren't out to hurt others but are simply afraid of being hurt themselves? One dictionary definition of "hostility" surprised me: "resistance in thought or principle." The timid certainly seem to do a lot of resisting. Resisting what? Not just a new experience, apparently, but the condescension or irritation they fear they may encounter. I had to admit that an attitude that expects negative reactions from others could surely be called hostile.

And then my branch Church of Christ, Scientist, sponsored its annual Christian Science lecture, and I was asked to introduce the speaker. Although speaking in public was not new to me, the prospect of doing so as an official representative of my church was both new and overwhelming. What if I fumbled or forgot what I had planned to say? What would others think? Would I give a bad impression of Christian Science to the newcomers we hoped would hear this public explanation of our religion? If I made a mistake, would I embarrass the lecturer and make it difficult for him to begin smoothly?

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Eradicating amoral evil
February 7, 1983

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