I am an introvert. It’s true. I prefer to be with my own thoughts in my internal world than engaging with the world outside myself.
I am also a Christian. A follower of Christ.
Being an introverted Christian can at times be an oxymoron. The internal warring of two opposing juggernauts. As a Christian I am called to help others (Matthew 25:35-40). To love others as Christ loves me (John 13:34). And even to Evangelise to others (Mark 16:15). Yikes! Basically: to be outside myself. While I love Jesus, and want to obey Him, these commands terrify me. As an introvert, being with and loving others is an immense drain of my energy and emotions.
When your gaze naturally turns inward it takes a great amount of purpose-driven strength and effort to turn it outward; to turn it towards others.
If you’re an introvert, you get it. Completely. If you’re an extrovert, my internal world will seem foreign and difficult to understand.
So. Here is an example of what goes on in my world on a Sunday morning:
When the Pastor reminds the congregation to look inwards at themselves and eliminate those thoughts and ideas that are not of Christ, that’s easy! I look inward and judge myself constantly. I judge myself against the standard of the Bible, the standards of the world and my own personal standards. I can happily do it all day without being asked. And I do. Being an introvert is an advantage to introspection. It is also an advantage when commanded to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Instead of talking to myself in my internal world, I simply turn my conversation towards God. My internal world is always pulsing with thoughts and songs and new ideas. As long as I remember to seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness (Matthew 6:25), then that internal world becomes one of praise and joy and talking to God. It’s lovely in that world!
But when the Pastor pauses the morning service to allow all congregation members to greet each other and shake hands…. Oh my. My little introvert heart just goes all aflutter with fear. I need to engage with others and smile? Oh my! And so I swallow my fear and greet everyone around me. I’m pleased when there is no one left to shake hands with and I can sit down. Praise Jesus! And raise my hands in praise? Not for me thank you. My hands will remain permanently glued to my sides. The idea of having attention from others for my actions is stress enough. I don’t need any more. Or when the Pastor asks for volunteers to lead different programs. Oh my! I have barely enough energy to be in charge of myself and the whirling thoughts inside my head. And I need to be in charge of others? I need to, gulp, LEAD? Oh my. And should ever the Pastor do an alter call, I think I would faint dead away before I made it up to the front. Every one could watch me as I stepped into Glory to meet the King of kings. Oh my! My legs freeze right where they are.
But. God made me an introvert. He knew what He was doing. It was not a mistake. I am not a mistake. I know that in my short coming and failures. In my weak introverted nature there is strength. It is a strength that is not my own. It is a strength that does not come from me. It comes from my Lord. It comes from my Jesus.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 1 Corinthians 12:9
I am lucky to know that power. I know that when I interact with others and my heart remains calm. That is from the Lord. I know that when I serve others energetically; that is from the Lord. When I smile and greet others and show them the love of Christ; that is from the Lord. And when I am able to share my faith; when I am able to share all that God has done in my life; again, that is from Him. In His strength alone am I able to do as He commands. I am lucky to have His power made perfect in me.
And so I do not despise being an introvert. I know it is a short coming (one of many!). But it is a blessing from the Lord. Not a curse. It drives me to Him daily in prayer. It reminds me that I am nothing without Him. Daily I depend on Him. Only through Him am I able to love others as Jesus loves me and follow His commands. And praise God that He loves me! Praise God for His faithfulness! And praise God that He answers prayer! If God can use a stutterer like Moses, a denier like Peter and a poor orator like Paul then He can most definitely use an introvert like me.