“You should become a greeter!” gushed an extremely friendly lady in the church foyer, seizing my arm as I attempted to slip out after services last Sunday. “You get to meet so many people! I just love it!”
Even as I nodded and smiled and thanked her for the suggestion, I was thinking three things at the same time:
- No way could I be a greeter; and
- Get me out of here, and
- She’s the right kind of Christian woman, and I’m not.
You see, I’m an introvert. I like people, but in small groups and small doses. Crowds exhaust me, and meeting new people is stressful. I need plenty of alone time to recharge after a busy day out in the world.
Often, though, service roles at church involve being social, especially for women. Teaching classes, hosting coffee hours, visiting strangers in hospitals or inner city neighborhoods, going on mission trips with dorm-style living accommodations… just the thought of this type of activity makes me tired. And yet, when I avoid serving in those capacities, I feel guilty.
Naturally, my feelings about groups of people make their way into my fiction. In my upcoming release, His Secret Child, the heroine gets offered a ride to church. “And be trapped into staying for the social hour, too?” she blurts out.
Like me, Fern is an introvert. She’s a librarian and a children’s writer, and she beats herself up for not being as outgoing and lively as many other woman are.
But Fern has much to offer the world in her own quiet way. She shares books with children, takes in her friend’s daughter after her friend dies, and helps with the library at the Senior Towers. Though she’s not outgoing, she has a lot of love to give.
What does the bible say about introverts? Nothing! I don’t think the word had been invented in biblical times. And in the communal societies described in the bible, solitude probably wasn’t a frequent option.
We do know, however, that Jesus often slipped away to pray in solitude. Moreover, First Corinthians 12 gives me comfort in being a little different from the norm:
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
I admire super-friendly women gifted with hospitality, but I am coming to realize I’m never going to be one of them. And maybe that’s okay; maybe I can serve in a different capacity. Writing Christian fiction feels so much more natural to me than socializing—and I’m coming to trust that God is okay with my doing what comes naturally, what he made me to do. Like it says in First Corinthians 12:27: You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Are you an introvert? Shy? Do you ever feel out of place among the social, outgoing women who love to converse with everyone in church? Or are you extroverted yourself, and do you struggle to understand the more introverted members of your congregation or family? Share an answer or an example by midnight, January 16, and I’ll choose a random commenter to win a $10 gift card. I’m hoping you’ll decide to buy His Secret Child and read about how shy Fern the librarian falls in love with a rugged mercenary.
And why not click here to sign up for my newsletter while you’re at it? You’ll gain access to random giveaways, and a heads-up about sales and new releases.