Editor’s note: Author Afton Rorvik’s words here are an adaptation from her new book (released today), Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship. Her call to the courageous, connected life comes just in time—and for such a time—as THIS.
My friend Sharla recently had a significant birthday. Her sister noticed from Facebook that I knew Sharla, so she messaged me and invited me to a surprise birthday party at a local restaurant.
I knew that I would know no one except my friend and her husband. For several days I formulated excuses not to go: busy time of year, big writing project, not feeling great . . .
Walking into a room of people I don’t know challenges me greatly. I am an introvert. We introverts thrive in quiet so time with ourselves feels like a gift.
I struggled to understand that when God wired me the way He did. . .
We don’t do small talk well, preferring conversations with substance.
We tend to listen well, care deeply, think creatively, and love to let our curiosity compel us into learning.
We can suffer from “brain freeze,” when the thousands of words in our heads struggle to find their way to our lips in a timely fashion. And speaking of our heads, we find them a cozy place to hang out.
We find a room full of loud conversations daunting, preferring the quiet of a one-on-one conversation.
During my growing-up years, people often labeled me as “shy” or “quiet.”
. . . He did it on purpose
And that label often came with a comparison to more outgoing people, the ones who could walk into a room, crack a joke, and have everyone laughing in minutes. I began to feel “less than.” And I pushed myself to try to imitate those outgoing, usually extroverted people. That only made me feel more anxious and awkward.
I struggled to understand that when God wired me the way He did, He did it on purpose. He made me slow, quiet, thoughtful . . . He wired me as an introvert. He didn’t make a mistake.
And yet, I still struggle to walk into a room. Why make the effort? Why not just enjoy staying home for a cozy night of thinking or reading or one-on-one conversation?
He calls all of us, extroverted or introverted, to live connected because He knows that we live better when we do.
1 Corinthians 12:14-18 in The Message explains it so well, even with a touch of humor:
A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, transparent and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.
So, how do we introverts learn to engage with people in a way that suits our God-given, quiet personalities instead of shaming ourselves and then pushing ourselves to act like “fake extroverts”?
As I mentally wrestled with that question in general and with the invitation to Sharla’s party in specific, I began a serious conversation with myself:
This will be hard! I will feel uncomfortable!
But Sharla is my friend. I want to celebrate her. And meet her people and learn more about her.
This matters. I need to show up.
And so I RSVP’d YES. And I prayed: “Lord, I want to grow friendships and show up for people in my life. And I want to learn to walk into a room of people I don’t know. Please give me Your wisdom and courage.”
Then I formulated an introverted approach for attending the party. First, I came up with some questions to ask other guests. And I gave myself permission to take multiple, long bathroom breaks to recalibrate in silence. Additionally, I gave myself permission to leave early.
Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the event!
My journey to recognize and own my introverted voice has taken me decades. How I wish I had realized long ago that my introverted qualities matter to the Body of Christ just as much as someone else’s extroverted qualities. How I wish I had learned to say to myself long ago, “You’re an introvert. You’re good at connecting in a quiet, thoughtful sort of way.”
Yes, God calls all of us, extroverted or introverted, to live connected because He knows that we live better when we live connected.
But He also gives us the courage and wisdom to do it, even if that means walking into a crowded room of people we don’t know.
More on Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship:
Afton Rorvik helps introverts (and those who love them) understand that their God-given personality can truly help them live connected in a quiet, thoughtful sort of way. In her conversational, story-telling voice, she weaves together research, stories, and God’s Word to encourage readers to embrace introversion as a connecting gift. Her book is available at Amazon.
Afton RorvikAuthor at Living ConnectedAfton Rorvik savors words, flavored coffee, time outside, and living connected. She happily embraces her introversion as a gift and celebrates her courage-giving faith in God. Afton and her husband John have two adult children and love to hike in Colorado. You can connect with Afton at her website as well as on Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter. Sign up for her monthly newsletter here.