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Guideposts Classics: Jane Wyman on Looking Outward

In this story from June 1964, the Oscar-winning actress recalls the priest who helped her overcome shyness and focus on God and other people.

By Jane Wyman

As appeared in

I looked at the Bible passage. It was the Ten Commandments.

“The first four,” he said, “deal with our relationship to God. They get our attention out where it belongs: on Him and His majesty. And the last six tell us how we ought to conduct ourselves toward other people. They keep our attention out there, away from ourselves and onto our neighbors.”

I looked down at the Commandments again. I had read them a hundred times, of course, but something in the old priest’s voice filled them with an unspeakable promise.

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It was the first of many interviews with this priest who became my spiritual mentor. And I have never forgotten what he told me the first time we met, about the cause of shyness, and its cure.

Not that I have succeeded in following all the Commandments in all their fullness, but the act of trying to has worked a big change in my life.

For when I looked away from myself I discovered a whole world full of other people. Fascinating people, people with woes and joys I had never imagined. I didn’t have much time left to worry about the impression I was making, once I really began seeing them.

But best of all, out there, I am finding God. Not much of Him, yet. At first it was just a shadow, a glimmering. But getting to know Him better, listening for Him, contemplating Him, loving Him, is a 24-hour-a-day assignment. Shy? I just haven’t got time.

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