Loving Your Introvert: Thoughts from an Extroverted Mama

 

 

These girls of mine couldn't be more different. As they bounce, climb & jump. Slide, bump & crash on the inflated air of plastic, with hair spun back like a weavers tapestry making conversation in their own unique way.

As I stood outside of that chain-linked wall, holding the tape recorder while looking into a sea of children, hoping for at least one friend. So she stands with her Baa Baa the lamb, enticing little girls her size into conversation. She's like a veteran captain taming the waves with her confidence & know-how of people. Her stature exudes confidence that is brilliant. When confronted with the sea of strangers, she dives in deeper.

While her older sister imbues a cautious observation. One I know. To scan the scenery before plunging forth; yet, she differs by being content on her own. I, on the other hand, scan...observe, in order to make a move.

She is a person who cannot be rushed.

Climbing methodically up the stairs as the crowd builds behind, and still...she cannot be rushed. Everything about her speaks "when I'm ready--I'll be ready," because she's a tea kettle on simmer--slow to warm.

Kindness & gentleness, her regard for others is astounding. She's my little Ferdinand protected beneath the shade, smelling flowers. Her world is right there.

Peacefully playing & bouncing with her baby doll by herself, not minding the solitude in this crazy jamboree. Meanwhile, her little sister making friends, embracing the loud by adding to it, is finding herself.

 

Extroversion & Introversion, I have one of each. As an extrovert, I'm seeing more & more how this world is geared toward the extrovert. How the extroverts abilities to dive right in, make friends, major in communication & open book, is seen as the greater. How in school settings the teachers or parents can worry about kids, like my oldest, not throwing themselves into the whirlpool of sociability.

But, what if these little introverts were quite content where they were. What if these little introverts didn't need us to feel sorry for them or push them to become someone they were never meant to be? What if they don't need, or even want, that many friends?

I confess that's it's hard for me to understand this and accept this about my introverted child. I have felt sad knowing that she might not have many friends, or be alone. Yet, I have to see her as she climbs the wobbly stairs, while holding tightly to that plastic hand with contentment & joy. She does not lack security or courage in that friendless side, because it's as if she knows more about this world than I think she sees.

 

 Subscribe to Redeeming the Table

New Writing, Recipes & Meanderings delivered from my table to yours

Enter your email address:

New Writing, Recipes & Meanderings delivered from my table to yours

Enter your email address:

Where do Women Extroverts Fit into the Church?

My fellow extroverted friend Logan & myself

Of late, there is a lot of talk of introversion & extroversion, mainly the introversion.  I have read over four to five articles in the last two months alone about how introverts feel misunderstood.  Some of these are biased & others are not.  

One book circulating (which I have not read yet) is by Adam McHugh, Introverts in the Church.  To be honest, the only written piece I've read by McHugh was a guest post on Ann VosKamp's blog entitled, "Where do Introverts Fit into the Church?"  I later went to post this article on Facebook to inquire from introverts what they thought?  Many agreed.  And I would agree with McHugh in that it's not whether one is an introvert or an extrovert in their belonging in the church--it's the kindness of Christ in them.  

*****

This here ENFJ, the Teacher, is constantly seeking to understand temperaments in others, in order to best love them.  I know I have people in my life rolling their eyes when I bring up Myers-Briggs, but it's honestly about knowing how to love, not putting people in a box.  This is precisely why I am eager to know the introvert; as well as, the extrovert.  Yet, there are certain strokes of the introversion persuasion of late that get me a bit riled up, and frustrated.  

After reading this post, "Caring for Your Introvert," I cringed throughout.  Maybe the author was trying to paint extremes, but as an extrovert, I felt like certain parts of the equation were missing.  Painting extroverts as constant chatterboxes, less sensitive & insightful.  

It's not that I disagreed with everything within this article, because I do believe that what defines an extrovert versus an introvert is how they process information & recharge.  As an extrovert, I am a verbal processor and can recharge by being around people.  That said, verbal processing doesn't mean that thoughts, reflections & meditations are devoid within.  And I feel as though extroverts are seen as lacking that depth that it would seem only introverts hold, which simply isn't true.  

Just as recharging doesn't mean that all extroverts are signing up to attend every social function.  Every extrovert isn't on the same playing field (same applies to introverts), when it comes to the varying degree of extroversion.  I know the more I've grown up & matured, the more I've found a balance of needing alone time & people time.  Being a mom who stays at home brings out the need for alone time even more.  

Sweet friends Talia (ENFP) & Megan (IST/FJ)

Now, let's go back to the McHugh post on his feeling inadequate when compared to his extroverted Christian friend.  I get it.  I see how being an introvert can be painfully difficult when extending yourself in those uncomfortable get to know you situations.  Or feeling like most of the Evangelical Church has turned into a marketing & sales stage, which appears to be catered toward the extrovert.  Something I don't have as difficult of a time with, but...

...can I interject my extrovert point of view within this post.  

As an extroverted, assertive & strong woman, I can feel like it is less of an asset within the church to be a woman extrovert.  It's the meek & mild woman who has been painted, the Mary sitting at Jesus feet whom gets praise.  I have had to fight the lies, which spoke to me as a young girl in my mother's shadow of a woman who is extroverted is more sinful than the introverted one.  It's the woman who kept quiet sitting at her husband's feet calling him 'lord' who appears blessed. 

This lie bled into my relationship with Ben as I saw that he never "sinned" with his mouth.  It bled into relationships with friends.  

Ultimately, it bled into my view of who God created me to be.  Not as a daughter of the most High, but a less than image bearer, due to my extrovert personality.  

What gets lost in this introversion & extroversion conversation is what one side views as "holier" than the other; thus, we feel the need to defend from the corner.

After Ben (an ISFJ) read the McHugh post, his response, "You know, it would appear that if we look at the early church fathers & monasticism, being an introvert was viewed as 'more holy.'"  I think he's right.  Depending on what church upbringing, family background, we can either value our introverted or extroverted self...or despise it.  

Either way, it's about being confident in who you are in Christ, and not allowing the lies to seep in.  It's like believing the lie that hospitality is about entertaining, when it's actually about making room to see the Christ in others.  

 

Have you felt inadequate as an introvert or extrovert within the Church?  Where have you seen the opposite of you being praised, while leaving you feel to be someone you're not?  Where have you found your confidence in your introversion or extroversion?