I am an introvert. Some who know me would never believe that. Which is probably mostly due to the fact that people assume introverts are always quiet, shy, and don’t know how to hold a conversation.
That is false. So stop thinking that.
For me, being an introvert means that I enjoy speaking to others and holding meaningful (read: MEANINGFUL) conversations. But at a certain point I will have reached my threshold. I will have maxed out my words and ability to tolerate groups of people or even individuals for the day. Not meaning that I dislike them, I just need to retreat in order to regain my sanity.
This may sound harsh to you extroverted folk, but it’s all about how we recharge our batteries. For extroverts, they feel at their best when with others and in social situations. I feel energized when I get home and can be alone with my own thoughts, Netflix, and a good book. No hard feelings.
So although I’ve enjoyed my life as an introvert thus far, there are some challenges I’ve had to overcome when becoming an introverted follower of Christ. I know I can’t be the only introvert out there struggling with these things, so I thought I would write out my top tips for those trying to maintain Christianity without losing their introverted minds. Feel free to read on your own….or with others.
1)Don’t shy away from community…pun intended
This is something I learned the hard way, but probably the most important. Since my natural instinct is to retreat, it can become almost second nature to go about daily life without talking to anyone. However, when our life’s goal is to seek to be more like Christ, we can’t do that without the help of others. No matter how hard you try, having deep and intimate friendships and a community of believers surrounding you is crucial to your faith. Because if your community is anything like mine, then not only are they awesome but they aren’t afraid to either break you down or build you up when necessary. You see, true friends are like mirrors. Sometimes we need a mirror held up to our ugliness and other times we need a hand or even a set of arms to carry us through this thing called life (Galatians 6:2). When we look in the mirror we see one of two things: perfection or just a shameful pile of mess. When a trusted community looks at us, they see beauty despite the flaws. Have you ever tried picking yourself up? It’s not only physically impossible, but spiritually impossible, as well (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). So even though my alone time is necessary and frequent, I never underestimate the importance of keeping good company as often as possible.
2) It’s ok to tell others your business
Now before you get all suspicious of this one, what I really mean is that it’s ok to tell a trusted person or group of believers your business. Not everyone. You can’t and shouldn’t go around telling Keisha, Becky, Rob, and Chuck about the deepest, darkest parts of your little life. If your most trusted companions are named Keisha, Becky, Rob, or Chuck then I retract my previous statement. But everyone should have someone who knows most things about them. Why? Because accountability doth a better, smarter, wiser, and awesomer person make (Proverbs 27:17, 15:22).
3) Say “Yes” to social gatherings at least 60% of the time…or thereabouts
This one might be a stretch for some of us, but you should at least give it a try. Hear me out, folks. When you’re by yourself the majority of the time (ie more than 50%, hence the plea for just starting with 60% yeses), isolation can breed habits. They can be habits like crafting, knitting, or scrapbooking. Or they can be habits like sexting your ambiguous friend-guy-person, spending 13 unproductive hours on social media, or watching porn (Proverbs 18:1). Can you do these things with other people? Sure, but highly unlikely when you’re saying yes to your handy dandy group of believers. And last time I checked, most people do the bulk of their sinning when they’re alone so as to pretend like they’re perfect in front of others. Sooooo let’s get our social time percentages up.
4) Don’t be ashamed to still take time to retreat
It is useless to push a cart sideways. In other words, I am in no way trying to convince you to become more extroverted or change the way God made you (or me for that matter). I simply wanted to share some things I’ve struggled with as a believer and an introvert and how I’ve noticed that my faith tends to slip the most when I’m trying to do life separate from my community. But I also know that every person – introvert, extrovert, ambivert, or whatever kind of ‘vert you are – needs to have time to connect one on one with the Father. Outside of your community. Jesus modeled this for us over and over again, and we would do well to follow his lead (Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16). Just don’t stay there longer than necessary, mmmkay?
Until next time, stay social my friends.
And I’ll add this just because it’s funny….and true: