I shouldn’t have been as relieved as I was. I was relieved because I found out the young adult ministry I had planned on going to—had wanted to go to—wasn’t meeting this week.
I find it the most frustrating thing about myself: it doesn’t matter how much I’m looking forward to going, or logically know I need to go (because I desperately need more community with peers), when the plan is to step into a group of people I don’t know, I freeze. Maybe freeze isn’t the right word, but it’s an apt metaphor.
See, home always sounds better. I’m an introvert. That last sentence may be the understatement of the century. I peg the scale on introversion when taking personality evaluations. (Myers-Briggs, anyone?) Even my spiritual gift assessment results scream introvert.
A quick glimpse so you know where I’m coming from:
- I dread small talk.
- Leading a conversation is exhausting, if not impossible.
- If I don’t have something in common with someone, I go silent.
- My sense of humor, one of my favorite things about me, disappears in new groups.
I’m pretty sure I could live life as a moderately successful hermit. There are many times where it is tempting to retreat into my home or myself. Where the idea of pushing myself into a new group of people, of building a community, and, yes, maybe even meeting someone special is less appealing than my couch and a book. I don’t consider anything really wrong with this. It’s how I was created, how I was wired. The two settings where I hear God best are in serving and those times of quietness.
However, I know that I can’t just do that. Numerous times in the Bible we are told to fellowship and have community. A Christian who doesn’t have a community of believers around him is like a soldier separated from his platoon, an easy target for the enemy. This is where I’ve noticed the need for boldness in my life.
For many people in my life, being bold in social arenas would include signing on stage or goofing off in front of a crowd. A few that I know couldn’t be more bold. But me? The self-proclaimed king of introverts? For me, being bold simply means showing up. It means turning away from my hermit tendencies.
I wish that I could say that over time it’s become easy to do this—that my social life flourishes and I’m swimming in a sea of quality friendships. Well, I’m not. If anything, friendships I’ve had have dwindled by time, distance, or other circumstances. That’s natural; it’s called life.
But while those have dwindled, new friendships have become harder and harder to create. No longer am I in a youth group or in college. My church, which is where I know God wants me to be, doesn’t really offer young adult programing. I’m in a place in my life where I have to seek out new friendships. Oh heavens…
A few months back I wrote about the importance of having a life verse. Mine continues to be a blessing to me. Every time I want to withdraw, to not be bold, I think of Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” God delivered that message to Joshua on the eve of launching a military campaign. Sometimes I feel that’s the best way to describe placing myself in a room with a few hundred strangers. But, on the other side of it, I always find that it was worth it.
Be bold. I have known many introverts and all have shared this experience, this tendency. I share this part of me to encourage you to be bold, to make connections with people that will last and be more than skin deep.
For the extrovert reading this, take note of what most of us introverts tend to do. I don’t have to encourage you to be socially bold, but I do urge you to take note. Next time you see an unfamiliar face sitting by themselves at your singles group, go talk to them. We don’t bite, but we may just need the help.
But please, no small talk.
Photo credit: del mich