Recently, I had a revelation about why being the new kid on the block has been so very tiring for me over the past three years.
I'm an introvert.....and I've been putting too much pressure on myself to be an extrovert.
It shouldn't have been that much of a revelation since I've known I'm an introvert for years, but when I read Ali's post and the article she linked to 10 Myths About Introverts, I felt the burden on my back finally begin to lift.
I realised that I don't actually want lots of friends. I'm the kind of person who prefers to have quality rather than quantity when it comes to friendships. I prefer to care for people and know them well rather than have lots of shallow, acquaitance-level relationships.
I hate small talk. That doesn't mean I want to talk about deep and meaningful things all the time. Sometimes I prefer banter. But I get frustrated when it feels like some conversations are ALWAYS about nothing. Last year, Jenny asked the question Is Church For Introverts? and I have to say no. Church is for extroverts who like buzz and conversations and people. I feel so weary after church and often need a nap. I don't like starting a conversation with one person only to have someone else rock up and change the topic, or steal the person you're talking to away. I can't get my head around how we've all just heard God's Word being preached and yet people want to spend their time talking about the weather.
While I was still in Perth, I noticed a friend of mine sitting alone during supper after church. I went up to him and asked if he was ok and he replied that he was fine, he just hated supper conversations so he preferred to sit alone and say nothing. He said he couldn't see the point of meaningless chit-chat and that he found Bible study more encouraging. I'm inclined to agree. I much prefer Bible study to big church. I prefer conversations to have a point otherwise making the effort is just too tiring.
One of the biggest myths about introverts is that they are shy (and extroverts are loud). This is simply not true. I'm an introvert, but I can be very loud (just ask my husband). I get daunted meeting new people (especially when they all know each other), but if I really want to go to a particular event, this won't put me off. It's all about how you recharge from stress or busyness. Duncan is part introvert, part extrovert. Sometimes he'll come home from work and be pumped about going out to Bible study and catching up with everyone. Other nights he'll be on the couch with the laptop and barely say a word. I'm usually secretly quite happy if night events get cancelled.
So what does this all mean for me as I seek to adapt to life in another small town? Well, for the past three years I've been putting WAY too much pressure on myself to go out and meet everybody. My logic has been that there are a lot of people out there who don't know Jesus and I need to go and befriend them. What foolish arrogance! God doesn't need me. He graciously choose to use us all in His purposes, but He doesn't NEED us. He has plenty of faithful servants at His disposal so I'm certainly not the only one.
I still want to love people - that hasn't changed - but with having arthritis and being sick three times in two months, I've realised I am a finite human being. I get to know people better 1-1 rather than in big groups. So I need to work out how I use how God made me for His glory rather than thinking that true Christians are extroverts.
Duncan reckons there is the potential for introverts to use it as an excuse for being lazy. He definitely has a point there. I'm very tempted to sit at home all day and never go out sometimes. It takes a huge effort to go out sometimes where I know I'm going to have to make small-talk. But sometimes introverts just need to push past this and go. Likewise some extroverts need to know how to spend time alone and stop bothering other people.
We're all part of the body of Christ and God made us all different for His glory.