Sunday, September 22, 2013

Christian Introvert

I am neither an expert on Christianity nor on Psychology. Please keep that in mind.
This morning I woke up with a real struggle. I'm tired from a hard week. I thought a Saturday spent in isolation (as isolated as one gets in a house of 4) would refresh me and have me ready to face the world again, but it didn't. The idea of going to something where I socialize with friends, listen to music, and be with others almost makes me want to cry. I know for a great many people that sounds completely backwards. Being in a setting designed to uplift and encourage you should be, well, uplifting and encouraging. For an introvert who is already tired, it can be torture.Here is where the struggle comes in. That place I don't want to go is church.
I love our church. I mean really love it. The people constantly touch my heart. The preaching is spot on and always interesting. So, why would I not want to go? Being socially engaged, even with fellow believers, is a switch I have to turn on. It isn't that I'm pretending to be someone I'm not, it is just that I am having to give a lot of energy to being me. Normally, I expend this energy happily, but when I feel like I am out of energy, church becomes a chore. (that is extremely hard for me to admit)
Most of the modern church is really designed for extroverts. There is one event after another in an attempt to give us a holy social life. We are charged to go out and invite others to join us. Music is played to stir our souls. Those are all really great things. The problem is, as an introvert, I don't have any kind of social life and I'm pretty happy about that. Inviting my closest friend to lunch takes planning and several drafts of an email before I finally do it. Imagine what inviting a casual acquaintance to church would be like.  The last time music really stirred my soul was probably many years ago singing "A Might Fortress is our God". A lot of Christians today scoff at the very existence of that song in modern hymnals. Actually, a lot scoff at the idea of hymnals at all. Praise songs are great for people who praise through music. For those of us who don't, it is a neon sign pointing to the fact that we can't clap and sing at the same time. There is nothing introverts hate more than being pointed out in a crowd.
This morning I got up to find my children reading the Bible with a daily devotional, and that soothed my tired spirit. For our house, God is not a once a week visit. Being a Christian is a daily walk. My faith is not going to fail because because half the house has a cold and I don't feel like being around people. Sunday is a day of resting in God and it is okay to do that in solitude every once in awhile.
The other thing I found helpful this morning was googling "Introverted Christians". It reminded me that we are all called in different ways. Even though my faith and service are not always on display, they are there and they are as valid as the front row's.
I hope you all have a restful Sunday whether that means sitting in service singing loudly or sitting in your closet being still.

(this post was not written to excuse an overall avoidance of all church, merely an occasional rest from corporal worship)


Holly Hill said...

As an introvert I really appreciate this. I had not really thought about the fact that so much at church is more of an extrovert experience. I would just feel guilty that certain aspects of church life were difficult for me. I am now facing the very uncomfortable reality of visiting churches to find a new one. For an introvert this process is daunting. It was very nice to read this today. Thank you.

Holly Hill said...

I think you might appreciate that as an introvert that comment was hard to leave. :)

Lynn said...

I do appreciate it. We went church shopping a few years ago. It was very hard. Even after we found the right place for us, it was an adjustment. We ended up being very upfront with the ministerial staff and letting them know that we tend to hang back and start slow. They have been very respectful of that. It has made all the difference.