Introverted Extrovert (sounds like a new species)

Does God care if you’re an introvert or an extrovert? Does one personality type please Him more than another? Is one personality a more effective evangelist?

A couple things recently have caused me to wonder. First, I have always referred to myself as an extrovert. I love people, I’m bubbly, animated, talkative, a people-pleaser and I can’t stay home a full day alone. In fact, the minute I’m snow-bound or otherwise shut up indoors, I’m bound to try and go out (usually to my detriment) just to make sure that I’m not really stuck by myself.

Recently, I have continued a life-long bad habit of over committing. I try to make sure that I’m never lonely or bored. So I promise to work this shift, meet that person, take on that volunteer opportunity, do this Bible study, etc. Finally, I guess I’m getting old, I suddenly realize that when I get that busy all I want is to be alone. Suddenly, I crave those long mornings in Bible study when I don’t have to be anywhere before noon. I miss the moments of cuddling with my puppy and the hours to experiment in my kitchen. I’ve come to a crisis of identity. Am I still an extrovert or am I a closet introvert?

According to definition: 

Basically, an extrovert is a person who is energized by being around other people. This is the opposite of an introvert who is energized by being alone.

I don’t feel like I could live in the extreme of either circumstance. But truthfully, as much as I love being with people, I feel inflated after a couple hours alone, with either a sermon or Christian music playing. What about you?

Last Sunday, our pastor confessed to being an introvert. Obviously, he’s serving the Lord and serving people and he’s not alone all the time. So, is there a right way to be?

God has blessed me in my extroverted moments. I get chatty on this blog and I comment on other’s blogs. I have tried to encourage my readers to be vulnerable, outreaching Christians. A few months ago, I gave away 2 Starbucks gift cards per week, asking the recipients to take a friend out to coffee and share the love of Jesus with them. That request introduced me to a special friend.

When one of the recipients of the gift cards provided me with her address, I was floored to find out that she lives in my home town! I wrote a quick note, stuffed the envelope and stuck it in the mail. Imagine how shocked I was four weeks later when they came back to me. Not a “return to sender” but a freshly stuffed envelope with a full-page personal note, a gift card TO me, a couple beautiful drawings and a cash gift. Stunned. Shocked, Humbled, Grateful. 

The card was gracious. She thanked me for reaching out to her. In return she extended kindness to me on one of those days when I was feeling friendless and lonely. Now, I’ve sent her something and we tag each other in blog posts (:

Another new, unexpected friendship began about a year ago. An elderly couple was dining at Panera just behind me as I was working. When they rose to leave, the lady commented on my Bible. “It’s so nice to see someone in the Word.” One little sentence struck a quickly deepening conversation. I must have stalled them for 30 minutes as we uncovered that her hubby was retired military, I told them about my husband, my writing, my church. She asked me about joining my church’s Bible study. We exchanged phone numbers and bid farewell.

I didn’t see Bob or Shirley again until yesterday. She hadn’t returned my phone call and I didn’t want to be a pest. But when our paths crossed in Panera again, in our same seats, Shirley jumped up, spry for a 76-year-old woman. Shirley explained that her daughter had had surgery and she herself had battled some health issues. But she definitely still wanted a chance to study the Bible with my church and to become better friends. We traded numbers again and said goodbye with a genuine hug.

Then there’s Fred. My atheist friend at Panera who gives me practical advice and driving directions around D.C. We met when he pointed me to the only electrical outlet at Panera. Since then we’ve exchanged small gifts, talked for half an hour at a time and grinned at each other across the dining room. (Don’t worry, he’s my granddad’s age.)

All these examples only serve to explain that being extroverted, needing to be around people and to have relationships, has provided me myriad opportunities to learn from others and to share the love of Christ with them. If I had been cuddled up at home alone, I would never have met these people.

From the other side of the isle: Jesus often escaped to be alone. (Luke 5:16) A Christian will never have the nourishment or energy to grow in their walk with the Lord if they are always being stuffed with the company of and interaction with other people. In Psalm 46:10 God commands us to be still and know that He is God. Stillness is not an attribute often exhibited by extroverts.

My researched conclusion is this: it’s not OK to say, “That’s just the way I am.” We can’t stay the same. We will all be born with a bent, but it is the beauty and glory of Jesus that constantly straightens us and changes us to be more like Him.

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Holy Empty

Abba, teach me to be completely careless,

Radically change me into wholly fearless.

Exacerbate my human weakness.

Show me Jesus, make me speechless.

Rip from my hands all that’s worthless.

I want to see NOW in disciples, in emptiness, in hope, in eternity,

In faces, in hearts, in today, in tomorrow, in expectation

Your Holiness.

Busy Being Busy

Fingers stuck in every pie,

A sticky mess, I don’t know why.

Got to be needed, have my say,

So stir, and add and quickly pray.

On to the next, must add my touch,

Never mind I’m doing too much.

I’ll forget something, I’m sure.

The salt, or sugar, forget to stir.

Or worst of all, if it all gets done,

I’ll forget to serve someone.

Is the Paycheck Important

We all know it isn’t true. We all KNOW we are valuable to God and mean something to someone somewhere – right? Then why does the lie roll around in our heads, periodically coming to the forefront of our minds: What good are you?

Is it a woman thing? Is it a me thing? Is it a generational thing? Men are allowed their midlife crisis, am I allowed a midlife identity crisis? I don’t know what my purpose is and I’m searching valiantly for some way to quantify, validate, earn my existence. Preferably a monetary means.

 

I went to college – because every self-respecting woman does. I mean, after women’s liberation, how could I possibly despise the opportunity to further my education. I could afford it. So I picked a topic that sounded interesting and invested four and half years of my life into earning a manilla-colored piece of paper that declares I met the subjective standards erected by an institution called a university.

 

Honestly, I don’t even know where that piece of paper is right now. Since that time I have held myriad part-time jobs. I have thoroughly enjoyed each of them for the time and place they held. Only one utilized the four and half year expense, but each of them provided a meager monetary sum that told the world, and especially my ego, that I was worth something.

 

Now, I’m in a new place. Because right after college, I committed to following a man and his career, I explore some home every couple years. My transient life doesn’t lend itself to longterm anything, much less employment. That’s probably OK, because I seem to have a very short attention span.

 

So is something wrong with me? Do I lack commitment since I have never held a real job longer than 2 years? Or do I exhibit uncommon commitment because I four times I have uprooted my little life, packed my dreams into his baggage and traveled to a new temporary home?

 

Now I am wondering if I am lazy, inept, unaware, dependent – essentially a loser, because I don’t even have the ambition to bring home a measly paycheck. I don’t have the energy to brew coffee for gainfully employed businessmen on a 30 minute timer anymore. I simply don’t want to scrape nickels and dimes off of wooden tables after diners spread their crumbs – even if it does earn a decent wage. I can’t abide the thought of folding sloppy shoppers discarded items over and over and over again.

 

What’s wrong with me? Because even as I discount the above suggestions, I don’t feel worthy in my current occupation. Currently, I volunteer with the Park Authority, serve at my church, attend three writers’ clubs, study the Bible, clean the house, care for the cars, pay the bills, tend the yard, walk the dog, fix the meals…

 

But, gee, the title “housewife” doesn’t even offer a measly paycheck.

My Love Letter

A friend of mine, Charles Mashburn,  introduced me to this blog today. I’m intrigued, so this post is an interruption of our weekly programing to bring you, One More Love Letter.

 

 

(Magic in the Backyard hosts a weekly Friday Free Write. Please check it out. The above header is featured on her site. )

Dear Friend,

I imagine you’re feeling a little lonely today. If not, save this letter for a day when you are.

Believe me, as a fellow woman, I know: nothing needs to change, the light only needs to reflect differently on the water, a speck of eyeshadow cascade into your eye. Maybe you stub your toe, blink twice or wish you had eaten cereal for breakfast instead of toast. NOTHING needs to change for your peppiness to disappear, the spring in your step to be sprung, your whistle while you work to fade, your happy-go-lucky to go somewhere else. That’s the nature of being a girl – moods.

But think of it, that’s a comfort really. When you know that you simply FEEL one way, that nothing is any different from the way it was when you FELT another way – you can live through it!

“Hear me when I say it: if Loneliness needs to visit then waste no time in pulling up its chair. If Sadness wants to dance today, get on those ballet shoes. If Tire and Exhaustion are demanding that they sit beside you on the train, let one take the window seat and the other the aisle.
They’ll be leaving soon. They’ll make their way out. They won’t stay forever, though it may seem that way right now. But you, you just keep on going, knowing that all you are doing is absolutely enough. You are doing just fine.” (quoted from Free Write Friday)

Remember that time you sat in a circle of glowing sunshine? Then you looked across the street to see your neighbor’s house bleary behind a curtain of pouring rain. The cloud bursts never last long, but in that moment there is undoubtedly a rainbow. Your momentary loneliness is a cloudburst. Somewhere, just across the street, the sun is brilliant, and if you want you can walk right over there and bask in its glory.

ROY G BIV

Arches over the street where you live.

Red, Orange, Yellow, Green,

Your loneliness is not as it seems.

Blue, Indigo, Violet,

Every sunrise has a sunset.

Today will soon spin into tomorrow,

The globe round once and joys will borrow.

Copyright: All rights reserved by PelicanPete

Know this, dear one, you have a friend,

Tears, raindrops, sunlight blend,

Into a rainbow.

 

 

 

Ish

You bless me with another moment of your matchless presence,

Here, in the back, alone, just this page – no pretense.

No warped smile of contentment

To disguise a heart quietly rent.

Protect me Lord, from loathful self pity

Your grace, mercy, comfort are afforded me.

There is no cause or claim on pious indignation.

This is my lot, my joy, my station.

Like Jesus, Father, make me see,

The joy, purpose, peace in waiting for Thee.

He did not moan or indicate his pain.

No cunning, “humble” lips revealed black thoughts.

His joy waited in tomorrow, with hope.

His love sought others of greater need.

Lives lost from forever.

No sight of their Father.

He chased the orphans, loved the lonely,

called the faithless, died.

His grave belied the life He was.

The life He is, He gave for me

Oh Father, help me to see and help me to be

Like the Christ who first loved me.

From my journal – August 8, 2008

The cashier is screaming at me.

She can’t see the tears streaming down my face, or she might stop.

“You idiot!  My time is more significant than yours and apparently I’m a lot smarter too.”

She has a job, she’s doing something productive with the minutes of her day.

She counts for something to someone.

I feel stupid, and insignificant.

A pretty shelf decoration, unneeded, unless on rare occasion

I’m strong enough to hold up someone’s book of knowledge.

Maybe I’m not even that pretty.

My mind starts screaming at me.

Your blinds have no excuse to be dusty –

That’s the most important, only responsibility you have and you can’t even do that.

Why in the world is there a dust spot from dissolved snow on your floor,

what else do you have to do?

Are you stupid? Or maybe you’re tired, though I have no idea why –

What taxed your energy?  Oh, I forget, you work out, whew, don’t work that brain too hard.

P.S. Enjoy this post by an author that I enjoy!  Peach Friedman: Wistful

Against a Wall in the Dark

Wordless, speachless, soul-less I came.

Silent screaming only your name.

My anguish compounded by confusion.

I don’t know your words and can’t see your direction.

The only thing I feel is your presence.

My little frame of earth is still.

So my prayers stop moving from trembling lips.

Only tears follow gravity, like blood down Calvary’s hill.

Yesterday, I told a friend, that refinement, relationship requires pain.

The foundation of all the hope I have was laid with blood and agony of soul.

But God, I no longer “feel” saved and whole.

You left me here, alone it seems with only pages that fuel dreams.

Dreams of eternity, happy marriages, companionship, purpose and praise.

HOW MUCH LONGER?!

Has not enough pain sullied wounded hearts?

That their seams bulge toward threadbare death?

When death and lies and faithlessness assail all that once was “good”?

What do I know of good?

LIke a child in the dark, I’m groping backward.

All seems encroaching night, constricting to swallow me.

Eyes peeled open in panic.

Bricks mortared higher than I can climb.

A barrier that spins me to look the advancing cruelty in the eye.

God, Must I? Let Me Out! Let Me Go! Let Me Away.

Lean.  I think you said. Lean and slip limply to recline.

Recline against this Wall, this Rock until the storm passes by.

This, I your wall, will stay the tightening night.

I cannot fold, will not collapse.

This night will not crush you.