SO I’ve been thinking about what it means to be God’s ambassador to a hurting world…as an introvert. (This is going to be yet another one of those posts where I just share what I’m mulling over, having not yet come to any conclusions.)

reading

I am quite introverted. I was surprised recently to discover that some people I’m rather close to didn’t know that about me. But then again, it’s always sort of felt like this shameful thing that I should “get over” or at least hide.

I’ve wondered lately if that’s really true. And if not, then where is the line between being brave, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and so forth and denying your own personality or not embracing the unique person God created you to be.

I read in an article a few months ago that in 2010 “introverted personality” was almost listed as a disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. I feel like that statement really illustrates the general view of introverts in our society. It seems to me that for the most part we glorify extroversion, and consider many aspects of introversion to be negative or abnormal. I know there’s been quite a bit of discussion about this in the past few years. But here’s my struggle; can someone, as an introvert, fulfill their God given purpose just the way they are, or in order to do that they have to “overcome” introversion.

This past Sunday, we somehow ended up getting to church super early. Pretty sure there was a tear in the space-time continuum or something. Anyway, Misteris wasn’t in the sanctuary yet, and I didn’t see any of my friends around, so I just sat down to wait for the service to start. I would have been enjoying a few moments to actually sit without any of my kids clinging to me or drilling me with questions, but I was uncomfortable. I was afraid people were going to be judging me for sitting alone and not being up socializing. And then, the worst happened. Someone walked past me to the couple sitting on the other end of the row I was on, and proceeded to recognize that they were new and visit with them. Hello huge guilt trip!

I could barely focus during worship because I was pretty sure I had just been the worst Christian ever. I so seldomly talk to all the people I don’t know at church that I hadn’t even realized they were newcomers. I hadn’t gone up to them and engaged in welcoming small talk to make them feel loved and accepted and therefore continue attending the church and experience all the wonderful great things. πŸ™

Over and over and over we are given these “simple” ways to reach out to people. They pretty much always involve successfully engaging in extroverted activities like having people you barely know over for dinner, walking around your neighborhood chatting (non-awkwardly) with everyone you see, leading Bible studies, or at the very least hosting a Noonday Party (like a boss) at Jen Hatmaker’s request. (Side note, I love love love Jen Hatmaker…if a genie popped out of a bottle and said I could have coffee with any one person, it would totally be her!)

9887645276_d9e7f0acaf_zThe idea of doing any of those things completely horrifies me! I mean I was super nervous about going to my own baby shower last summer. Don’t get me wrong, I was incredibly blessed that I had sweet friends who wanted to throw me that shower, but it was nerve-wracking.

Occasionally I try to make myself do these things. And then I give myself a pat on the back, good job me, I’m doing what I’m supposed to, even if I hate it and nothing really seems to come of it. It must be what I’m meant to do….everyone says so. Plus, if I don’t do the uncomfortable things then I’m not being brave…and that’s bad.

Anyway, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought the past few days. Also, I need more coffee. I only had enough for ONE cup this morning. Oy to the vey! How many chai lattes does it take to equal the caffeine in one cup of coffee? πŸ˜‰

(P.S. The top picture, of me reading, was one of the images from my maternity shoot last year with my sweet friend Desiree of Bella Mia Portraits!)

Introversion

7 thoughts on “Introversion

  • July 17, 2014 at 4:58 pm
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    I think you are awesome just as you are. FYI as if you couldn’t tell I wish I had a little more introvert in me. Maybe then I would pause before I just blurt out or go do something stupid.

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  • July 17, 2014 at 7:05 pm
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    There are sooo many ‘jobs’ God has for us all. There’s a huge difference between stepping out of your comfort zone because God asked you to and doing so because it’s what you think you’re ‘supposed to do’. I’m not saying God will never ask you to be uncomfortable but he made you…well…you! And I’m pretty sure he doesn’t expect you to engage the visitors at your church – that’s why he sent the other folks, don’t you see?!?!? He has other jobs for you. My family, in particular, will always have the most precious images to cherish long after our babies have grown up. That’s a gift!!! But because that comes ‘easy’ to you it’s somehow less valuable? I don’t think so. I think you’ve used your gift in service to the fight against human trafficking, right? I truly believe that sometimes it’s as simple as that. But we’re human and if it isn’t hard then it isn’t enough. We focus on our weaknesses – or worse, what we perceive as weaknesses! Time to say, okay, God made me this way – what can I use that he *did* give me because I’m not gonna let Satan keep pointing my eyes to what he *did not* give me! <3

    Besides, can you imagine how crazy a world full of extroverts (like me!!!) would be??!?!??! gah!!! hahaha!

    I have been around you enough to know that you are a pretty incredible you – with all the gifts and talents God gave to you to use and the ability to develop the ones He wants you to have, NOT the ones you or anyone else *thinks* you should have! πŸ˜€

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  • July 18, 2014 at 9:45 am
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    Thank you so much, my friends, for your comments! Before I wrote this post, I thought that maybe I should wait till I’d worked through it all on my own and then maybe I could post something inspiring and whatnot. But receiving affirmations that I’m not the only one who grapples with this, and encouraging words, and even reminders of ways you see me using my gifts has been the most incredible blessing! I read each comment last night on my phone and couldn’t wait to get back on my computer to let you all know that I am incredibly grateful for your response! <3

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    • July 18, 2014 at 1:00 pm
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      I second all that Shelby said! As an extrovert married to an introvert, I see my husband wrestle with this all the time…especially since he feels called to be a pastor. Just want you to know that I love you exactly the way you are and I often long to mirror the “gentle, quiet spirit” that you have which the Bible refers to as beauty in a woman!

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  • July 19, 2014 at 2:28 pm
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    Heather, I think you don’t realize how much you already do step out of your comfort zone. You are kind, friendly, and loving to people. I have felt more genuinely accepted and respected by you than by most people. You are not snobby or above people, and you don’t use personality-type as an excuse to be a hypocrite. For example, I am SURE that if it had been your first time in the church and that couple hadn’t noticed you, that you wouldn’t take offense. You’d probably even be relieved. If you would be offended, then you need to be the one welcoming people, which will probably be effortless. I welcome people here and there, or strike up a conversation, but I usually feel awkward and really struggle to appear laid back. But I don’t feel guilty when I’m not “feeling it” or am preoccupied.

    I hate titles. I don’t fit them, and that’s why I hate them. I don’t like to be pigeon-holed into a category. When “introvert” or “extrovert” becomes their identity, people sometimes aren’t open to what God has for them. We should make decisions based on where our heart is called, moment by moment, whether we’re completely comfortable with it or not. But, obviously, God had made an appointment for that visitor with someone else that day. Now, if you had seen a need, felt in your heart you should meet it, and then excused yourself based on personality-type, then you might have an issue. Your young neighbors were strangers, but you opened your heart, and your door to them. You are much more aware of others and meeting their needs than I, a more extroverted type, am! You went to Africa to serve people you didn’t even know, and to do a job you had to make up as you went along! You are already brave and obedient to God. And you already submit to Him, instead of to a label.

    It’s funny, your perception of the way people treat introverted or extroverted people. The extroverts in my family are all black sheep and the introverts have it together. So, in my experience, people see something psychologically wrong with extroverts! I think, in reality, if you are debilitated by your personality type to the point you truly can’t even function or make choices, then it’s a problem. Extreme extroversion and extreme introversion are equally bad, though, I think.

    That article… I just did not like the way it was expressed because it hit some of my exposed nerves and old scars. I’m sorry if you took my comments personally!!!

    Love you bunches.

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