I’ve spent a lot of time learning to understand and express myself as an introvert. Over time, I have let go of unhealthy expectations I set for myself. However, instead of resigning that I will “never be ________”, I have learned to humbly ask God to fill in where I am weak and to help me grow in those areas–even if my personality would be perfectly comfortable to just leave it alone.
I’m being vague.
Let me be more direct: Introvertedness is not some magical criteria that excuses me from bringing the gospel to the hopeless. It does not excuse me from a single one of God’s “people-related” commands. Real talk? It doesn’t excuse me from introducing myself to someone new. It doesn’t excuse me from starting or participating in a small group. It doesn’t excuse me from following the Spirit’s leading into a conversation with a complete stranger, or a patient for that matter.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12 (NIV)
I say all this from a place of weakness. I have struggled and failed in each of this things, but through the “another chance” given to me by God I have also tried and succeeded.
I guess the reason I feel the need to express this has to do with the comfortable mentality “well, I don’t do _______” or “I’ve never been good at ________”. While, I don’t believe we are to ignore our personalities and giftings, I adamantly believe that if we raise up our internal preferences above the commands of God and the example of Christ, we are in bondage. Bondage to self. Bondage, in my case, to introvertness. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like freedom to me.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.” Galatians 5:13, 16-17 (NIV)
I don’t always like the Message paraphrase, but this one is pretty good:
“13 It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows.
16My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit,” Galatians 5: 13,16-17 (The Message)
“Serve one another in love”
I would like to think that serving is something that comes pretty naturally to me. The part I am questioning right now in my life is the “in love” part. I have been told that I love fiercely, and I do see that in myself. For example, I can be pretty intense in my loving defense of people. I do it in every arena. Open your mouth to say anything negative about someone I love or respect…and be prepared to meet the 5’2” version of the she-hulk. So I am capable of love. Promise.
Here’s the real question though, and maybe you all can help me with this.
Do I have to act above my “normal” and love dramatically?
I’m not the girl who gushes over her friends’ instagram photos.
I don’t like to say “I miss you” unless I actually did think of and miss that person.
I’m rarely the first one to say “I love you” in a new friendship.
All that left me wondering, “does that make me a bad friend? Does that make me less of a lover?” [In my head at least, the extrovert world thinks so.]
I was thinking about this a lot on my commute one day, and suddenly this thought came to me. It hasn’t given me solid answers, but I saw just a sliver of God’s grace through it. Here it goes:
I LOVE chocolate. This Christmas I got a container of dark chocolate, salted caramel squares. I had one a day like a it was a multivitamin or something. I would nibble off a corner and close my eyes as I savored the mix of flavours melting in my mouth. Then I’d nibble away, bit by bit, enjoying every millimeter. One day I was compelled to share a piece of this chocolate I loved so much with a friend. I was immediately horrified when they bit a chunk that had to be half of the entire chocolate! And before I could protest, the other half was also gone.
I am not sure that this is a flawless metaphor or anything, but I do wonder if we each have varying, and perfectly acceptable, strategies for how to share our love or emotion. Apparently, I am one to let an emotion sit on my heart. I prefer to savor the sensation and feeling than to express it quickly and passionately.
Is this another form of bondage? Should I just be more “free” with my thoughts and feelings? I don’t have a perfect answer for that, but because of my firm standing in Christ, I resolve to follow the Spirit’s leading–wherever that may take me.
P.s. Forgive me, but I wanted to see if that baited title would really work haha. I guess I’ll find out when I post it!