For the next few weeks, I want to try an experiment on my blog. Each Sunday, I’d like to post a little about the struggle of being an introvert and trying to serve God. These posts, unlike my blog in general will not be directly writing related, though they will certainly touch on the life of introverts who write.
This subject has been much on my mind for the last several months, and now especially, as last week I began a small group study of Experiencing God.
But let me lay some foundation here. First, I have observed that there are varying levels of introversion. Some are only mildly so, some are greatly so. What I find is that I seem to be more introverted then most introverts I know and it shows up in specific ways. To view it visually in your mind, if 1 was extremely introverted and 10 was mildly introverted, I’d rate myself about a 2-3.
How does that play out in my day to day life?
1. I go to work (in a work setting that is the worst possible environment for an introvert) and then go home to my cave and hide from the world (okay, well my dog is there, but NO ONE else!).
2. My extracurricular outings are limited to: grocery shopping, Wednesday and Sunday Church services, and once a month I have a writer’s group that meets locally. I hobnob with people only as much as I have to to get by. No parties, no other large people gatherings (I’m even uncomfortable in large family gatherings). That’s the same reason I rarely go to concerts and sports events – I’d like those things a lot more if there weren’t a bunch of people there. 8-).
3. It means I’m too shy to talk to people. I have naturally learned to project a “please don’t talk to me” persona which comes over me subconsciously in public places, like waiting at the bus stop, waiting in line, etc.
4. I’m lousy at small talk. And truth be told, since I limit my interactions with people to what is strictly necessary, small talk seems frivolous to my way of thinking.
How does it create misunderstanding?
1. People think I need to be “cured” of my introversion. I’m thrilled to be an introvert. If I could be Grizzly Adams living in a cabin by myself up in the high country, away from people, I would. The only bad part about being introverted is that most people can’t understand or misjudge quiet, introverted people. It’s just a sad fact of life.
2. It means I am frequently misunderstood. Why am I not as enthusiastic about pot lucks as my church family or my co-workers? Because to them, it’s FUN! Not to me. To me it’s a social ordeal to get through.
3. The other big misunderstanding is that people don’t think I care about them. That could not be further from the truth. I dread the meet and greet time on Sunday mornings. Sure, I smile and shake a few hands. But I mean a few. I don’t go running all over the church sanctuary trying to hug and shake hands with everybody there before the musical interlude runs out. But I deeply care about my church family and others. I just don’t feel the need to be verbose and effusive about it.
4. But the big misunderstanding is the one I’m struggling with most. God made me. He made me who I am. I did not suddenly become introverted. I have been this way from the beginning. Yet it seems like ministry opportunities are always for extroverts.
And that brings me to the specific topic I want to talk about next week – which is how DO I serve God as an introvert? In Experiencing God, we are told we need to find out where God is working and join Him. We have to be willing to step out of our comfort zone.
But in practical application, does that mean I have to stop being an introvert? To constantly be around people? I can’t think of a more miserable existence, nor one that causes me more conflict in my spiritual life.
But for now, if you are reading this blog, I’d like to know – do you consider yourself an introvert? How has that affected your service to God?