Saturday, March 13, 2010

on being a social introvert

My idea of relaxation is being alone... with a book or a movie or a project or a pen and pad... in a quiet, beautiful, inspiring, secluded place. And if I am not in the mood to be alone, I prefer the company of one or two people in short increments. It is actually very energizing and revitalizing for me to have that time... and that is why psychologist tend to call people like me "introverts."

However, I do think relationships and fellowship is really important - actually, the MOST important thing about a ministry lifestyle, so I have to work hard to push myself out of my shell and be social as often as I can manage it. "Social" doesn't have to mean being in a big crowd or staying out late at night. For me, it means that I need to make an effort to express to others that I care about them. It means I take some time to put love into action by having a meaningful conversation, genuinely asking about how someone is doing, sharing a meal, teaching truths from God's word, opening myself up to be honest and real and even vulnerable.

I feel like I can justify my need and desire for alone time, because after all, Jesus made a point of (at least trying) to have alone time in quiet, beautiful, secluded places! But Jesus didn't have a fit when he didn't get his alone time every day, because he knew that his ministry was to love, teach, serve - in essence, pour himself into - others' lives. His priorities were straight, and when the option was to help someone else or hide away, he had compassion on those he saw in need.

I think sometimes I hide behind my "introvert" label. It's an excuse for me to focus on me and what I prefer, rather than focusing on my neighbor and what they need. Don't misunderstand me - I definitely recognize that I need alone time for my personal sanity (after a crazy-social 34 hours, I will bask in a quiet evening at home tonight!). But I must be willing to sacrifice "me time" - like Jesus did - if it means a chance to pour into someone else's life. Those are moments that I don't want to pass up or miss out on... those are the moments that matter.

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