Spiritual battle for an introvert

Last Thursday evening was a meeting at my church to revitalize an outreach ministry that had fallen short on help after its most dedicated members either got sick or passed away.  I’ve been looking for something new to do at church to get involved.  Being an introvert by nature, feeling connected and involved without being overwhelmed is sometimes a challenge.  (You can find a great bullet point description of introverts versus extroverts here to understand more of where I’m coming from.)

I fought and battled to make it to this meeting.  I found out about it the previous Sunday, so that gave me days to think about it.  I told my husband I wanted to go.  But then I didn’t want to go.  The weather got bad on Thursday, and I had all sorts of great excuses.  As I battled and debated, I realized if I was fighting this hard not to go then the Devil really must not want me there.  (Yeah, I’m one of THOSE Christians.)  So, I determined I’d go.

I think to the others there this was most likely just a meeting.  To me, that evening it was a spiritual battle of sorts.  And it was getting me out of my shell.  I’m happy to talk in front of a large group of people.  I’m not happy to talk one-on-one with people.  Well, by not happy I mostly mean that I’m not very good at it.  My best way to power through is by asking people questions about themselves just like I do for work.  I was thrown off guard from the beginning when a new member introduced himself and then began asking questions about me.  Woah!  It was fine.  It was normal, but I sort of stalled a minute.  Usually I’m the one asking the questions.

The meeting was a good one.  My plan had been to see if maybe there would be ways that I could participate in this ministry by praying and writing notecards at home rather than going into church and meeting with other people to do so.  But, as I sat there listening, I realized that trying to do this with other people is probably exactly what I need.  It gets me out of my shell a bit.  It takes me out of my comfort zone.  I realize that may sound odd to extroverts.  For example, I think of my mom who is sweet and talkative.  She went with my daughter to story time at the library last week.  It’s the same story time Lexiana and I have been going to for nearly a year.  My mom found out more about the story time librarian and the other faithful mom and toddler in one week than I have in the entire year we’ve been going.  I try.  I really do, but it’s not natural to me.  I strive to be intentional.

So my plan is to work my way out of my bubble in this one area by getting involved in this ministry.  I’m both excited about it and not excited at the same time because it’s hard to me.  But, the other thing I know is that God doesn’t want me to be comfortable 24/7.  Jesus certainly wasn’t during His ministry on earth.  If I want to be like Jesus, then I need to push myself.  And this is pushing myself.  At the same time, I completely understand that it seems silly to some that meeting with people regularly is pushing myself.  I hear you.  All I can tell you is that to an introvert, it is.  I thrive on information so I know exactly what I’m getting into.  For that purpose, this meeting was good.  I got a very good idea of how things will be set up and what to expect when I go in.  That makes it easier for me.  However, my heart is racing just a bit now thinking of this and doing it.  And I totally know how crazy that sounds.

At the same time, I also know that I’m not alone.  I’m not a freak.  (Well, maybe, but not for this reason.)  I’ve read a few introvert books.  I enjoyed “The Introvert Advantage” by Marti Olsen Laney when I read it years ago.  It was the first book I read that made me realize what it means to be an introvert and that I wasn’t weird, anti-social or alone in my feelings.  Right now I’m reading “Introverts in Church” by Adam S. McHugh.  I’m just over halfway through it and I’m really enjoying it.  In fact, the book was part of my inspiration to try and get outside of my nice little bubble.  This book tells me that I’m far from the only introvert who struggles to find her way in church involvement and ministry.  There are lots of us out there.  McHugh himself is an introvert and a pastor.  He recounts his and others’ struggles with their nature versus their calling in the book.  It’s a matter of finding balance between recharging alone and being with others in ministry and service.

I tell you all of this to share with you a bit of this journey that I’m on right now.  I may give you some updates here and there.  I am asking for prayer as I work just a bit out of my comfort zone and reach out.  I’ve had times of doing this in the past where I ended up feeling letdown, which is a great tool for the Devil to use to discourage me from trying again.  However, I know through the power of Jesus that I can overcome that.  He is so much stronger than the Devil.  And He’s also stronger than I.

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, what are you working on to get outside of your comfort zone?  Join me on my journey!  We can keep each other accountable.

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