I'm an introvert. Do you know what that is? Our culture has a way of thinking about what that is . . . and it's not usually a flattering thought.

I love people. All of my work is centered on other people. Most of my time is given to other people. And I genuinely enjoy that. But I'm an introvert. 

Our culture suggests in not so subtle ways that people who are introverted: always want to be alone . . . are not interested in other people . . . don't want or need other people . . . don't know how to have fun.

Here is one way to appropriately describe somebody like me: "people whose energy tends to expand during reflection and dwindle during interaction."

I didn't know very much about introversion/extroversion until I got to know my husband. We were in college. I'd known him already for about two years, but from a distance.

In getting to know him, I got to know myself better. Ladies - that's a good sign.

My clear-thinking future husband suggested that I read this book. And then he bought me a copy. I've read it at least 5 times.

Also - I love Barbra Streisand and I won't apologize for it!

This is a classic song. And I love it because I'm an introvert and I need people. I just need to know my own boundaries in the midst of relationships so that I can stay healthy and energetic.

Introversion hasn't been so difficult to work with in my secular job, but in my church work it has been a challenge. I find that more often than not I have to gently and persistently explain what it is, and assure people that it's part of my list of strengths - that it's not a weakness.

When we have to ask this question, it makes me sad, "Can I be an introvert and still be a person who offers something to my faith community?" or, "Can I be a leader in my faith community and still be an introvert?"

It's not just my question. It's all over. Look at this or this or this or this . . .

If you happened to zoom in on the fourth link, you saw the 4 lies about introversion. Lie #4 says, "Introversion is incompatible with teaching and leadership gifts."

Hah! That's all I do. 

Hi, my name is Sarah and I'm an introvert. Monday through Friday I teach children. Wednesday and Sunday I teach adults. I am capable of teaching in school and in the church. As I have journeyed through different faith communities, I have heard a gentle and persistent whisper from God, "You don't need to worry about what they think 'enough' means. You only need to know Me. And together, we will LIVE." It doesn't matter if I'm introverted or extroverted. The strengths are different, but they come from the SAME PLACE.

I believe that God created you.

Yes - You.

I don't know where you fall on the continuum. You might be a little bit introverted and a little bit extroverted. Lots of people now believe that it works like a spectrum and that you can slide back and forth during your lifetime depending on circumstance and adaptation. 

It doesn't matter where you fall - God loves you. 

None of these are weaknesses. God made you the way that you are.

Introversion and Extroversion are not things we're asked to learn or unlearn. 

But sometimes people make us feel like they are. This can be on purpose or by accident. My own experience has shown me that people aren't well educated about the subject. They have some cultural impressions, but no background information. So a little bit of gentle advocacy usually does the trick.

When I was a teenager I didn't know what any of this was. I'd probably always been an introvert. I know for sure that I grew up in a family full of them. I did know these things as a teenager:

- I did not feel comfortable walking into the youth room on Wednesdays . . . so many other people . . . lots of small talk required of me. And I wasn't good at it. 

- I did not enjoy large group discussions. I could not come up with answers fast enough. It felt forced.

- My need for small group deep-talk and one on one discussion bothered people - especially other kids my age. It isolated me - particularly on trips.

Friends, I have sat in on meetings and listened to adult people sing the praises of extroverts vs. introverts. Inside the church and outside the church. But most often? Inside the church. And I've watched some brave people rebuff that stance. I've seen some folks speak up who would rather not speak at all - because they know it's not a matter of choice or of weakness. It's a matter of personhood.  

And who has created people but God? Nobody. 

This past year I had the pleasure of meeting a new student who had a personality much like mine. We had some good talks about how a person can prefer quiet conversations and even dislike being on stage and still love music.

I'm a songwriter.

One of my greatest joys is sitting alone with my notebook and writing poetry. Or sitting at the piano and picking out tunes. Part of that enjoyment comes from my reception of energy! It comes from the fact that I am energized by my time alone! It's all wrapped up together. What a gift! I am so thankful to be just like I am.

And aren't you?

Whoever you are is good.

God made you and said, "That's good."

Peace and Goodness.

OLL

 


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