It’s true, we creative-types need re-charge time alone. For the month of June, I am basking in my life-life balance, while ignoring all the challenges of my work-life balance which will be thrust upon me come August 14. I believe introverts are complex and difficult to understand (if you are an extrovert) and perhaps to the sanguine-mind our melancholy-bents and our ever-present superpower of being able to peer beneath the fashionable facade, make us to some “not worth the price of admission” when it comes to friendship.
That’s okay. I am participating in an insightful Bible study with a fantastic group of ladies from my church where we are contemplating and discussing the quintessential introvert-extrovert relationship between two sisters–Mary and Martha. I really like this study, written by Joanna Weaver, because she refrains from pitting the sisters against one another in black-and-white terms, but rather focuses on the fact that both sisters are wired with strengths and weaknesses. Mary and Martha need one another. The body of Christ needs both. Families need both personalities; otherwise, life would become mundane and boring or chaotic and out of control.
I married an extrovert and I know I was attracted from Day One to my husband’s energy and comfort-level in new situations. I know that he would say that he has benefited from my leading in times of reflection and prayer together, times when we deeply consider our relationship and our walks with the Lord. Meshed together in marriage, we have one walk together, and we don’t always strike the perfect balance. I have steered us away from potential bad decisions because of my ability to intuit false people. He has taught me to see the best in people and has put me in situations (always holding my hand) like para-sailing, driving in Northern California during thick fog, or attending his work conferences where we are forced to mingle. These activities taught me that most things work out just fine. I would probably never have tried so many adventurous activities without the steady hand of my extroverted spouse.
God puts people in families, in churches, in friendships for His purpose. One thing I have learned over the years is that it is okay to only half-listen if the person listening to you is doing that. I must also realize that my extroverted friend doesn’t get to sing karaoke solos with me either. Introverts need to remember that we can be too judgmental, prone to emotional shut-down, and that we are walking around usually depending on others to plan and execute all the fun in our lives. I find myself often thinking “oh that would be fun” but I never get past the daydreaming state.
My success as a teacher came as a surprise to not only me, but to the head of my department and to the vice president of academic affairs who hired me. Teaching is performance to me, like playing basketball, running a half-marathon, hosting a dinner party. Introverts like Mary in the Bible aren’t devoid of all skills except for washing feet with oil and listening (although listening is another superpower of most introverts). I have led meetings in church where I was offered a job after the event because I was so prepared and organized and the CEO in the room appreciated that I didn’t waste his time. Perhaps Mary didn’t hog the microphone and sing, but it doesn’t mean she couldn’t sing.
Here is a list of celebrities who are introverts: Barack Obama, Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, Glenn Close, Lady Gaga, Meryl Streep, Michael Jordan, Leonardo Di Caprio, Julia Roberts. I wonder how many teachers who are introverts get the best reviews from their students because they are able to create presence in the classroom, make eye-contact and remember their students names and all the struggles that they share?
And Martha in the Bible wasn’t completely deficient in going deep. She is the one who ran to Jesus on the road, demonstrating and expressing her deep faith in His power to raise her brother from the dead. If she had not taken the initiative to open her home to Jesus and his disciples and host a mega-gathering, the sisters and their brother might never have developed an intimate relationship with the Lord.
Most, if not all, of my close friends are more extroverted than I am. They have prayed over me, listened intently to me, cared for my children, and walked with me through joy and sorrow. They reach out and they hold on to me, and I cannot imagine life without them. In short, extroverts are generous, loving, beautiful people. I believe Jesus felt this way about Martha.
Accomplishment happens when we live for God’s purpose in the way that He wired us for success. The pace looks and feels different for the Marys and the Marthas, but the important thing is obedience to God’s purpose and plan for our lives. Permission granted from above for you to do you.
It’s June and this introvert is feasting upon a re-discovered inner life.
He walks with me and he talks with me and He tells me I am His own.