A good friend recently posted this great article about the 4 Lies About Introverts. It's always fascinating when someone writes about the very thing you've been contemplating and hits it on the head.
I've been plagued with guilt because of my need for solitude after doing things that I absolutely love. My life is people saturated. Some of my very favorite things that I'm involved in can be very draining, but does that mean I'm not supposed to be doing them?
That's where the lies start to swirl in my head.
- Lie 1: If I want to be excellent in my ministry, I should be more extroverted.
- Lie 2: If I'm exhausted after being around people, I don't really enjoy them.
- Lie 3: If I need a moment of solitude, or a weekend away, I'm selfish.
- Lie 4: If teaching exhausts me, I should let someone else do it.
Let me tell you a little bit about what my week looks like. First of all, my husband and I are not living a conventional lifestyle. He left the corporate world to attend seminary, and now that he's graduated, even our ministry is somewhat unconventional. He teaches music. Every day (except Tuesdays), there are families coming and going from our home from around 1:30 - 5. This is awesome in so many ways. I get fellowship time with other women, and my kids play with the kids that aren't in a lesson. These lessons are not like the piano lessons I took as a child where the house was eerily quiet, and every wrong note rang through the silence. No. These lessons are in the midst of a vibrant cacophony of chatter and giggles. I think it's ridiculously fun.
Tuesdays, our one day off from music lessons, are our homeschool Classical Conversations community days. On these days, I spend six hours with twelve 14-16 year olds talking, discussing, arguing, laughing, and tutoring. I think this is my highlight of the week. I love pouring into these lives. They are precious young people who are blessings to be around. They inspire me, motivate me, and have pushed me to accomplish more than I ever thought I really could. They challenge me to be excellent. I love working with them and for them. But at the end of the day, I hit the couch with a hard thud, and my brain is mush!
So is there something wrong with me? Absolutely not. In order to fight the lies, I need to acknowledge the truth:
Lie 1 - If I want to be excellent in my ministry, I should be more extroverted.
TRUTH: God has positioned me in a place in which I must be fully dependent upon Him in order to accomplish what He's called me to do. This is a perfect place. If I can do everything on my own, without Him, the glory rests on me. Gaining glory for myself is like capturing vapor with a butterfly net - futile. Excellence is a result of fully yielding to the Lord for strength, and then watching what He does as a result of your faith.
Lie 2: If I'm exhausted after being around people, I don't really enjoy them.
TRUTH: I don't spend time with people to satisfy my own needs. I spend time with them to serve them. There is no greater joy than being able to bless someone with a friendly smile, an encouraging hug, or a timely conversation. If I want to be available to serve the people I love, it will require giving all that I am. Exhaustion is therefore a good thing! Satisfying! Just like the satisfaction you find in being exhausted after exercising, the same should be said of any endeavor. Exhaustion just continues to humble me and requires me to become even more dependent upon the Lord.
Lie 3: If I need a moment of solitude, or a weekend away, I'm selfish.
TRUTH: This connects with the idea above. I don't have an endless supply of strength, no matter what I'm doing. The source of my strength is the joy of the Lord. This requires alone time; it encourages solitude. If refueling means that I can continue in the ministry that God has called me to, then getting away, or being alone with the Lord is the opposite of selfish. Selfish would be to not allow people in to my home, or not spend time investing in kids because it takes too much out of me.
Lie 4: If teaching exhausts me, I should let someone else do it.
TRUTH: To ignore a calling because it is too difficult would expose a lack of faith. This is just flat out pride. I've all of a sudden started caring too much about whether people think I ought to be doing something when they might be better at it. God's desire for me is to focus on His opinion alone about my performance. The best book I've read on this is by Ed Welsh: When People are Big and God is Small.
So I'm releasing my guilt (or shall I say my selfish pride that keeps telling me I should be able to do it myself).
I'm choosing to believe that God can use the tool (me) as He desires...and get the results He desires.
Refueling is a good thing and very necessary.
Comparison, if wrongly applied, can be the thief of joy.
I will celebrate my differences, rely upon the Lord, and trust in His plan for my life.