Confessions of a Serious Introvert
I love my weekends. I love my home. I love my family. And I love my closet. Okay, so I’m a bit of an introvert. I could easily justify it with my crazy life, which is the direct consequence of saying yes to God’s will in this season of our lives. And I’m not talking about over-committing in areas where I have a clear choice. In fact, I’ve spent a long season setting things aside and saying no to everything unnecessary, so that I can be fully present for all that is necessary.
So, when Saturday rolls around, or an evening in my week that – by some miraculous intervention – happens to be free, my first instinct is to protect it fiercely. And no one would blame me for doing so. In fact, in the name of maintaining sanity and practicing good self-care, such an endeavor would be considered admirable.
Except that God has summoned me off of my island. Ugh.
Over the years I’ve spent inching my way off the banks, this has meant giving up a Saturday morning or afternoon to hang out with a friend I love, but would rather try to squeeze into another time frame. It has meant going to a study I don’t have the time to attend, but felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit to do so anyway. It has meant inviting people into my very private life and space when I would much rather be breathing in the silence of the few moments I’m ever able to grab ahold of.
Please understand, none of my reluctance to invest myself in these relationships is due to any lack or fault on the part of the people I’m engaging with. My reluctance is due to my own fierce desire to live in the quiet corners and to avoid the rub I know will come with relationships. Because all relationships create a rub.
Some rubs are good. When my husband barbeques, he likes to rub the meat with a combination of spices he’s put together. That rub delights our senses at the dinner table and creates warm memories for days to come afterwards. But despite the good it yields, the rub requires effort. It requires time and energy to be invested. Time and energy that could have been spent doing something, or nothing, else.
When I give my four year old a bath, I rub her down from head to toe with soap that makes her smell sweet and huggable again. The dirt washes away, and the angelic, well-scrubbed little princess emerges, better for having had the rub. Though she usually fights me at first, she and I are both happier when it’s done, and ready to cuddle together on the couch again.
Some rubs are painful. As iron sharpens iron, by coming into dangerously close and forceful contact with a piece like itself, so humans grow (Proverbs 27:17). Sometimes God calls us to show up and be uncomfortable. Sometimes with people who hurt us, or challenge us, or rub us the wrong way. Sometimes with people who challenge us to rise to another level, without even realizing they’ve done so. Sometimes God simply calls us out of our little corners and into the bigger picture, where we are inevitably connected and meant to rub up against each other, and be changed somehow.
Just Show Up
It’s one of the reasons why Scripture tells us not to neglect meeting together with other believers (Hebrews 10:25). In an age where it’s easier and more comfortable to stay home and “watch church” on TV, God actually challenges us to show up and be part of the church, imperfect as we all might be. Introverts and extroverts alike. Even when there are so many “good” reasons not to.
Because it’s in the rub that we are changed. We are all like salt, and together, as we rub up against each other, we infuse flavor and texture into each other’s lives that are, in God’s plan, meant to leave a lasting impression on us and the world around us. We need each other, and we need each other the most when we think we need each other the least.
So, though reluctantly at times, I am still committed to getting off of my island. There is certainly a God-directed balance in this, so that I don’t give away the moments meant for Him or for my family, or even for me. But being willing to face the rub has helped me to give and receive the moments intended to bless and challenge both my own life and the lives of the ones I’m rubbing up against.
I hope this will help you to climb out of your comfort zones and risk exposure to something that might be abrasive, but is definitely full of the potential to bless you with growth. Together, we can sharpen each other, if we are just willing to show up.