Labels are not always great. They help in understanding ourselves and each other, at least to a degree. Labels are also horribly inaccurate because no one fits into a box completely. The influences of of things like personality, beliefs, environment, and circumstances effect who we are so that a label is really more of a loose category.
That being said, I do fall deep into the field of introvert. All the classic descriptions fit me. I used to embrace this label and use it as an excuse to be alone reading, coding, playing music, hiking, etc. All things I enjoy doing alone. In fact I don’t enjoy doing those things unless I am alone.
As time goes on I am finding that this is changing, which suprises me because I see this as a core attribute of who I am. It’s anyone guess as to whether it’s maturity, growth, circumstances or change brought on by my walk with Jesus. Maybe it’s all of it together. But I find that I desire people. I desire a close community and I desire it strongly. This desire is strong enough to cause discomfort. Without a community the discomfort is as strong as when I am in the middle of a huge crowd. This is new.
As often happens, the conductor of this incredible symphony we call life is orchestrating events, people and matters of the heart in a way that both delight and amaze me. I have been reading a book called “Letters to the Church” and in it Francis Chan describes the community that I desire. This community is one that we tried with our friends the Walkers about a year ago, only that was called “Missional Community”. I was not ready for it then, though I felt deeply that it was closer to what real fellowship and serving people looks like.
This video is powerful and it describes exactly the calling I feel. Serving people and changing the lives of people in a way that gives them a deep and rich life. Now and forever.
I will probably always be an introvert, but hopefully not an extremely so. It’s not a bad thing to be introverted. There are books and articles out there on this, so no need to recap that here. Introverts can use their super powers for good! As is with extroverts and all in between, just because something is uncomfortable and not “my favorite”, does not mean you should not do it. Alone time and time with people are good. Balance is good. Some of us find it easy to focus on the inner life and others find it easy to focus the outer life. The danger in focusing too much on the inner life is that we are not built to operate 100% of the time alone. It’s selfish and it’s detrimental to us. We need other people and other people need us. It’s also not good to to focus too much on the outer life.
If we give priority to the outer life, our inner life will be a dark, scary room. We will not know what to do with solitude. We will be deeply uncomfortable with self-examination, and we will have an increasingly short attention span for any kind of reflection. Even more seriously, our lives will lack integrity. Outwardly, we will need to project confidence, spiritual and emotional health and wholeness, while inwardly we may be filled with self-doubts, anxieties, self-pity, and old grudges. Yet we won’t know how to go into the inner rooms of the heart, see clearly what is there, and deal with it. In short, without putting a priority on the inner life, we turn ourselves into hypocrites.Timothy Keller
I’ll keep the blog updated with where this desire leads. Feel free to share with me in the comments where you fall on the introvert/extrovert scale and how you view being in a community.