They called me shy. It didn’t seem like a compliment. From kindergarten all the way through fourth grade, I was the quiet girl with the skinny arms. And when I did speak, it was always met with Louder. We can’t hear you. The fact that my ears stuck out just made things worse for me – it fit the mouse-like stereotype a little too well.

I was a shy girl with the shy best friend. I would have stayed that way if the world hadn’t ended in the fourth grade when my parents told me we were moving to Iowa. Make new friends? Are you kidding me? That means I’d have to like, talk. Still, we moved and I left my shy best friend behind.

Several years and several moves later, I had learned the fine art of becoming who everyone wanted me to be in order to be accepted. Not in the I’ll-jump-off-a-bridge-too kind of way, more in a I-don’t-rock-the-boat kind of a way. I watched people, learned what got on their nerves, learned what people liked and didn’t like. I wasn’t doing this on purpose. I just really wanted to have a lot of friends. I wanted to be seen as fun. I didn’t want to miss out on anything. Shy didn’t seem okay.

I often say I’m an introvert in extroverted skin. On the tests, I come out close to the middle, falling slightly on the introverted side. As someone who prefers to listen long, I’ve struggled through this concept of being authentic and open. I wrote about it here last month. Since then, I’ve thought a lot about those of us who are introverted and how it relates to authenticity, honesty, telling your story, sharing your art, living in community.

When we consider the spiritual transformation of our lives, it often means being stretched beyond what comes natural and leaning hard into what is supernatural, those things that come from God. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder if learning to be open for an introvert looks different than it does for extroverts. Perhaps applying one kind of definition to authenticity is hurtful to some. Perhaps for those of us who are naturally introverted, being quiet is being authentic.

We’ve talked a lot about community here at (in)courage. But community might look very different depending on your personality. What does being authentic in community look like for you?

I just got Introverts in the Church by Adam S. McHugh and plan to read Quiet by Susan Cain next. Do any of you introverts have any other recommendations?

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  1. 1

    I used to consider myself an extrovert. I was always surrounded by friends, I was very outspoken, and I liked performing. Then I grew up. Slowly, i fell more quiet, and I don’t make many friends anymore – those few I have I don’t see so often. I keep to my little circle a lot. I dread going to events on my own because I’m afraid to feel awkward, but I know when I’m there I will not make the first move to meet someone new. So i Don’t know if now I am an introvert. Either way, I’m okay.

    • 2
      Barbara says:

      I know just how you feel. When my kids were growing up, I was very social. Especially in “making things happen”. I was motivated for my kids. To have a great childhood, surrounded by lots of friends. As they got older, things changed. Individual friendship preferences replaced familial friendship preferences. I had a few extremely close friends go in different directions. I thought friendship was forever, especially Christian ones. I was wrong. One cannot always make a friend stay your friend. This hurts. I have become more cautious. Now that our kids are grown, our church life looks very different. I struggle a lot with loneliness. When I do think back on my childhood though, I was very shy, had just a few close friends. I think I thought I needed to be different when I became a Christian. I became more social, maybe developing friends that were only there for the season when I was “benefiting” them. I wish I could say-”Either way, I am okay”. but I cannot. Please pray for me. Thank you.

      • 3
        Melanie says:

        I will pray for your Barbara. I understand how you feel. I have many “friends” that are more acquaintances. My dearest childhood friend of almost 30 years and I had a falling out 6 months ago, because I finally spoke up about some inconsiderate behaviors that had been going on for years. I felt i handled it in a mature fashion and tried to continue the friendship. At any rate, her silence has proved that the friendship is over, and it makes me sad. But, I’m learning as my faith deepens that I must speak out when it is warranted. this was a christian friendship as well, and she was instrumental in my journey, thats what makes it even harder to take. I hope you will be okay, and can find the comfort that only Jesus can provide. God bless you.

  2. 4

    I feel very much like being an introvert vs. being an extrovert can make your view of community quite different. I like being included yet I am not okay with initiating things. Sometimes others can perceive my shyness as snobbishness/rudeness so it can be hard to maneuver in the community. I try to remember that God made each of us unique and that we can still have an impact on others. We each should be using the spiritual gifts God gave us, even if they are out of our natural comfort zone. For example, one of my gifts is teaching but I am shy and I do not have very high self esteem. I feel like God called me to lead a bible study recently with a small group of women from my church and so I am doing it. I don’t see any fruit as of yet and maybe I will never see the fruit but I am confident that God will do something with it that is beyond what I could ever imagine. I think you are a vital role in the community of Christ no matter where you are on the spectrum of shyness. If you are being authentic and being real you can make a difference. I always think it is better to be real. That does not mean to not get of your comfort zone for Christ, but you can make it apparent that you are indeed out of what feels natural for you and it can make a bigger impact on others than you realize. So I can’t speak for the extroverts, as I am sure they have struggles of their own but for me, if I am being real and really working for Christ I can’t go wrong, because he will make it right.

  3. 5

    Wow, what a great article! A few of my favorite topics all in one. Although no one has ever accused me of being shy, I can relate to your statement “Several years and several moves later, I had learned the fine art of becoming who everyone wanted me to be in order to be accepted.”

    I know there are various was of defining introvert/extrovert. I have always leaned toward the theory that it is not how outgoing you are or are not, but how you rebuild/re-energize (time with people or time alone).

    For me being authentic means saying and doing what I know is right, even if I am afraid. It means speaking up even if I will be criticized. It means not being frozen by the need to change. It means helping others when no one else does. It means asking for help when deeded. It means being honest about my problems, being transparent when I am broken, resting when I need to, swearing a little, apologizing a lot, listening to rap sometimes, crying often and laughing more.

    I do a lot of work around authenticity and creating support. I had a gal I was interviewing tell me she had 700 friends of facebook but ‘no one knew what I was dealing with’. Something has happened in the last 3 generations that we have isolated as women, and it is not healthy.

    I offer a life coaching program with a daily journaling assignment. One of my favorite MAPS (monthly action plans) is called Taking Off Your Masks, all about authenticity and pride. It is very deep. http://www.mylifecompass.com/?page=map

    My web-site (not super pretty but in process) http://www.RevivalLifeCoaching.com has some articles along these lines The Need For Solitude http://revivallifecoaching.com/the-need-for-solitude. I’d love you to take a peek if you are so inclined.

    I think this need for support is huge and key for women of all ages but seems to ‘blow up’ between 30-45. If we don’t have it we will break down in some fashion.

    Anyhow, great read. What is the process of posting it as a guest post on my blog? Thanks tons.

  4. 6

    Wow perfect timing! I just found this TED video by Susan Cain this weekend: http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html It took me many years to appreciate being an introvert, yet I still feel like I have to somehow justify it or explain it to people. It’s nice to know there are others out there :)

    • 7

      I just watched this video today! Good, no, great stuff. She talks about introverts in the school system and business world, but I think so much of what she says should also be applied to the church and Christian community.

      I’ve always had a tremendous dislike for compulsory fun, so you can imagine how well I managed in most Sunday School/Youth Group/VBS settings. Sometimes I think I came to know Jesus in spite of those things, not because of them!

      I’m still finding my way and my place as an introvert in a community of believers, and I realize that it’s up to me to find my best place to serve and learn how to do community in a way that plays to my introverted strengths.

  5. 8
    Lisa H says:

    I like your statement about being and introvert in extrovert skin! So true! I am what i consider an introvert-I don’t want to share about me- I prefer watching the crowd and listening. But my job demands I am extroverted. So I’m both with 2 different personalities almost. I’m getting better at making conversation when I am not at work, making friends or deepening friendships with people who truly care. I’ve done a lot of things over the last year or so that I would never have done before because I’m growing and letting God have the driver seat these days. He didn’t mean for me to be alone and introverted all the time, he meant for me to know and experience community. He hasn’t let me down by choosing the people wants me to have in my life these days, guiding those friendships. I love the community he has put me in, people who know I’m scared and shy(introverted) most of the time but they encourage me to step out little by little and do more and more to become more involved in the family!

  6. 9

    Growing up we lived in a situation that required the constant “fight or flight” reactions. It caused me to have to be on my guard and ready at any time to stand and fight or flee the oncoming tempest. This developed into a personality that I thought was my own for years. Coming to the Lord I thought it meant being outgoing, doing, doing, doing.

    As I grew in my relationship with the Lord, I became quieter. I have times I am still very outgoing, but most of the time, I sit and listen, unless God opens my mouth (well I try to anyway). When my daughter came along, I had several dreams before she was born. In them God warned me to leave my daughter reclusive, to protect her and to not force her to join things unless it was by her own initiative. Believe me this was not what I had bargained for. It felt so wrong and so opposite of all that society had taught me.

    This was tough, as it seems society loves the outgoing type personality. My daughter over the years suffered much criticism for her “shyness”. Yet, God had me to always reaffirm her that God made her just as He wanted. As she grew there were times I wanted so much to push her into things, but often regretted it when I did.

    Today, my daughter is 23 years old, she has developed her relationship with the Lord to the point when she has something to say, she says it, but most of the time, she is quiet. She does initiate conversation when she is moved by God. In every relationship, there is the accelerator and the breaks. God designed this so that there would be balance in relationships. This is a good thing.

    The Bible tells us that God created the Body of Christ, some to be noticeable, the hand, they feet, the eyes. However, some are to be hidden, the heart, the lungs, etc. in the Body of Christ, God created those that are seen and those that are hidden. Who are we to say different. All parts are needed, both the introvert and the extrovert; both the hidden and the visible. God gives gifts, talents, personalities, etc, they are given by God for His purpose. God said that He will make strong who He wills, the noble and ignoble.

    We are told God uses the lower things to make jealous the higher things, to confound the ideas of man. It is the heart of contrition God desires rather it is in the introvert or extrovert; obedience rather than sacrifice. My daughter knew at age 14 she was called to be my companion. I thought that was nice and I accepted it as God’s calling, but little did I now God had prepared my daughter to do more than just keep me company. My health had declined drastically, my need God foresaw, the need for someone to be around 24/7/365 to help.

    If I had chosen to not listen to God, to keep my daughter as I saw society dictated, who would I rely on now to help. She is a good, kind, loyal daughter, who understood her calling long before I did. As a mother, I learned listening to God is far better than society’s norms. Praise the Lord for the shy person who can seek God in all their ways for they are noble creatures indeed. Who are we to say differently.
    Mrs. J.

  7. 10

    I can very much relate to your words here. For the longest time I shut myself in as an introvert as a way to “keep the peace” and “not rock the boat.” Long term this only caused a lot of pain and suffering and bad choices on my part. I am slowly learning how to be more of my authentic self regardless of how others might react. While I am still introverted in many regards I do have an extroverted side that is bring brought out as well. Thanks for sharing this post.

  8. 11

    I totally love that idea of an extrovert in introvert skin! I have some social anxiety so while there are tons of things I would love to say to people and inside my imagination I have a vibrant personality, on the outside what people see is an extremely quiet/introverted/shy girl. I have been working on it, so my idea of community isn’t leavinng the door of my room open anymore, but I would say that now I am satisfied with defining community for me as showing up to weekly events (church, Cru) and trying to participate.

  9. 12

    This is an interesting conversation for our churches which are often hyper energetic, not at all what an introvert like myself would find nourishing. Could it be that we need more introspective introverts in the ministry in order to guide our churches back to an equilibrium which includes deliberate spaces of quiet?

    I am drawn to churches which are liturgical and have quiet space. Is there a balance and what would that look like?

  10. 13

    This is beautiful, and terrifying for me. Just yesterday I got a call from one of the pastors at our church to be interviewed for a video they’re making for Good Friday, the question: “How did the resurrection of Jesus change you?” He said all the pastors unanimously agreed I’d be perfect. My dad is pretty much like the youth pastor at our church for the past 25 years, I’m the oldest of five children and I’m completely introverted. I also found out yesterday that most of the church thinks I’ve been sheltered. That is only half true…one and a half of my high school years I lived in complete sin. I was such a good actress that nobody knew, or knows about it to this day. Only the few that helped pull me out of the pit I was dying in. That’s where the resurrection of Jesus changed me, saved me. How do I go on camera with my introverted self and say that when my parents will be hearing it for the first time in front of everyone else? I’m terrified. Nobody has ever asked me for my testimony until now- is that possible? Everyone assumed about me but never directly asked and now that they are I have no desire for 500+ people to find out at once. Authenticity scares me at least this kind.

    • 14

      Oh dear sweet girl….you must be terrified. God wants you to be bold for Him. There may be just one person that sees your testimony on video and has their life forever changed. God will help you. Seek Him and pray for His guidance. Maybe you could clue your parents in a bit before they see the video with everyone else. You are in my prayers sweet one!

    • 15

      Ally, I’m an introvert through and through and one that also had a story to tell. I had an emotional affair on my husband many years ago and God had me write an eBook about it. I was always the good girl and so scared to admit it. Almost no one knew but my inner circle of friends and husband. But sharing how God moved was the best thing I ever did. ALL of us have sinned and people connected more with my faults than they ever did in my perfect moments. If you have truly repented and give credit to God, people will CHEER for you and what God did. Don’t ever hide God’s grace. Just keep the spotlight on him and it will be wonderful, freeing moment in your life.

    • 16

      You say, “I was such a good actress that nobody knew, or knows about it to this day.” I think there are very many people who live that way – and now you have a chance to change it.

      Might I offer a word of encouragement to you? You obviously don’t have to take my advice, but I would recommend sharing the truth with your parents privately before you do so on camera in front of the entire church. If you feel compelled to share your story on video (which would be amazing if you do!) then your parents will find out anyway. So giving them a heads up could be a loving and respectful thing. I am learning there is a difference between being vulnerable and authentic and being intimate. Since it seems you are just beginning to work through some of these things, it could be an intimate time for you and your family.

      That is just my opinion. Anyone else have a word of encouragement for brave Ally here?

    • 17

      I agree with Emily. Maybe share with your parents first… and then who knows, maybe having them there, already knowing, will help bolster you? I fully believe your story could bless a lot of people (even though I don’t know the details of it)… and maybe it was written for such a time as this?

      • 18

        Thank you, for all of this encouragement! I am humbled and overwhelmed! I am going to talk to my parents about it before I do it. I’m sure my parents will appreciate you all for encouraging me to do it too. I’m petrified to go through this entire process, I’m not sure why God chose me out of all the girls my age in my church to be the one to do this, but it’s part of my sanctification- it’s hard, which means that I will grow through it– if I survive through it! lol I’m totally kidding! But it is that hard for me. I’d much rather stay inside under a warm blanket and a bunch of books with my doors locked. Thank you all again!! So sweet and kind, I love God’s people! It’s not about me it’s about Him and that’s why I’ll be able to do this :) Thank you, Thank you!

  11. 19
    Jennifer says:

    As a introvert and mother of three daughters, I have grown
    into the idea of community over time. Through belonging to Christ,
    I have learned that we do indeed “need” one another and were created
    for this. Since we were each created as unique individuals , we also each
    have our own balance spot where we are living the life of our authentic self.
    There are God ordained and “called out “times where we leave our comfort zones
    so we can grow and be obedient.
    When my daughters were small (4 1/2, 2 , and newborn) I told my husband,
    “I feel like there are bees in my head”. My craving for quiet and self had to be
    put on the back burner most days until bedtime. Oh, but the rewards God had
    in store for me and the stretching has been amazing to this introvert. Now,
    I love me some quality Bible Study time with my church girls.

  12. 20

    Sometimes I think perhaps I’ve been loud and outgoing for some of the same reasons others have been quieter, more shy. I have had a habit of filling the void with noise. . the things we learn from our families (direct or indirect). .
    I am very recently starting to feel more comfortable with me . . Wow! Being able to say that, in all honesty, is a gift!! . . I’m starting to feel more comfortable being on my own, with myself and perhaps a little quieter when I am with others. Balance.

  13. 22

    This is going to sound crazy but I’m an extrovert who dreams of being an introvert!
    More often than not, I have the ME & MY BIG MOUTH problem!
    I’ve wished so many times that I could be QUIET! I feel ashamed of my powerhouse personality, it’s known to make people think I’m too much.

    I literally have to tone it down. Embarrassing!

    On the flip side — I never meet a stranger. I’m good at making other’s feel welcome and I’m not afraid to look silly if it helps “an introvert” find a friend.
    Ding ding ding–thankful that God doesn’t make mistakes! He made me just like He needs me to be, right? ;)

    • 23

      Wanda, us introverts are SO THANKFUL for people like you who help us find friends in social settings. Don’t change who you are!

  14. 24
    Sara Anne says:

    Thank you for this post! I am a very deep introvert–I draw my energy from being away from people and being reflective on my own, or with only a few very close friends and family. I love whoever mentioned Susan Cain–I always read her blog and just finished her book, and I also love “introverts in the church”. I feel like I’ve become more authentic as I’ve owned myself as an introvert and sought to encourage others to be kinder and more understnding of introverts and to make clear that introverts don’t hate people–we just get our energy from other ways! I went to a school that was deeply committed to community, which was wonderful, but so many events were draining for me–I had to explain that I have to be away from community sometimes, in order to be at my BEST when I’m in community!

  15. 25
    Brenda says:

    Then you have some, like me who are quite introverted but not in the least shy. It’s been a very difficult road understanding who I am and why I am the way I am. I thought I was shy for well into my teen age years because my family TOLD me I was. I’m not shy. I can talk to a stranger in the check out line or stand in front of people and give a speech. But I do NEED alone time often. I call this my decompressing time. I would many times rather stay home then go out. We often think of introverts sitting at home poring over books and I do like to read but my biggest “decompression chamber” is nature. I’m a country girl through and through and nothing sets my mind at ease more than going for a walk down my isolated country road, or through the woods. I can sit on a tree stump for a very long time just….thinking, calming and letting the Lord renew my mind. I feel closer to God in nature than anywhere else. I worship God when I’m outdoors through the enjoyment and wonder of His creation- the beauty of the terrain, the innocence of a butterfly, the business of a squirrel, the shy caution of a deer….Oh I worship God more deeply in a few minutes alone in the woods than with the biggest, fanciest, loudest worship band. And it is intimate with just the Lord and I. But one thing is for certain- our culture does not make it easy on introverts. I am so thankful for Adam McHugh and others letting me know that I’m alright. I’m not less because I don’t often seek out social situations. It really is ok to be an introvert. It’s just how God designed us and I’m no less valuable or effective to Him. We are fearfully and wonderfully made!

    • 26
      Sara Anne says:

      Yes! This: “It really is ok to be an introvert. It’s just how God designed us and I’m no less valuable or effective to Him”. Yes yes yes!
      Thank you for differentiating being shy and being introverted. I am both, but I’ve found over time that I am less shy than I was…but no less introverted!

  16. 27

    I am definitely and introvert. If I’m in a small group, I’m okay, but larger groups are a completely different story. Funny, my husband is an extrovert, and that is probably what attracted me. But, sometimes in public or large groups, I cringe inside when he calls attention to us by his loud talking and joking around.

    This is a very difficult thing to overcome. It is probably why I like blogging so much. I can express myself without the crowded room. For me, my blog is authentic, it allows me to express who I am and what I am about without having to completely step outside of my comfort zone. Does that make sense to anyone?

    • 28
      Sara Anne says:

      Yes, that makes perfect sense!

    • 29

      Makes perfect sense ,, I too am an introvert married to an extrovert. And I can totally relate to your comment “I cringe inside when he calls attention to us by his loud talking and joking around.” Thats sounds just like me

  17. 30

    Thank you for this post . It’s always good to know we are not alone. I too was the quiet girl everyone kept (keeps) asking to speak up.
    I love that line…”Perhaps for those of us who are naturally introverted, being quiet is being authentic.”

  18. 31

    The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney

  19. 32

    I stick by my first instinct. When I began reading your blog 3 (or 4?) years ago, I felt like I’d found someone who could perfectly articulate my own thoughts and experiences. You’re still doing that. I’ve said that I’m an introvert disguised in an outgoing personality, chatty when I’m with others but exhausted when I get home. In community, I’m trying to chat less and listen more…which, oddly enough, is sort of hard.

    I don’t have a great book recommendation but I took the Enneagram a couple of years ago and got a companion book that was hugely helpful in understanding myself. It’s not a “Christian” tool and the book I got isn’t either, but God really used it in a powerful way. I always thought I was weird. Turns out that I’m totally normal for my type. That still sounds funny to say. { I think that only contemplative types actually think about this sort of kooky thing. }

  20. 33

    SO well said girl! I completely relate. I would also agree with you. In trying to “be” for others, I was not authentic at times. Moments of silence can definite be authentic. Sometimes words don’t need to be spoken. Jesus is the best model. Peace from the Hy Spirit is my indicator of obeying His will.

  21. 34

    Wow Emily – you’re tapping into something I’ve been mulling over for several weeks now, especially since BlissDom. I’m going to add this to the mess in my head now, see if it doesn’t clarify some things for me…

  22. 35

    Yeah, me, too. God has been pulling me away from the wall reserved for introverts.

  23. 36

    Introverted in an extroverted skin. Yes. I think you just defined something for me that I’ve struggled to articulate for years. :)

    • 37

      oh good! It has always been hard for me to figure myself out, in a way, b/c I really enjoy people and conversation. But I have this deep, almost insatiable need for quiet, stillness, and time alone, too.

  24. 38

    I liked the book The Introvert Advantage too. Em, I love the way God made you and the ways you help us be more of who we’re made to be too.

  25. 39
    Lisa Buchanan says:

    I am definitely an extrovert and am such a people person, but with that being said, I love having my introverted time once in a while too and do it atleast twice a year – one on a small church retreat to the mountains and one on a weekend getaway trip with just me, myself and I. :)

  26. 40

    Hi Emily,
    I was labeled as shy when I was a kid too. In high school I wanted to rid myself of that label and become “fun” girl, so I did everything I could to rebel against it, including drinking way too much so that I could squelch the shy girl in me. So interesting that you posted this because I am working on a post right now about being the shy girl. It can be excruciating for me to open up to people, even to a counselor, so I usually just cry my heart out to the Lord through my journaling and writing. But, for so long I just buried everything deep inside until I suffered a mental breakdown. I don’t have an actual book recommendation that I can think of right now, but I do recommend reading the posts, You Will Fly Again and Seeing Past What it Seems by Melody Ross, of Brave Girls Club. Have some Kleenex handy. Let me know what you think.

  27. 41

    This is so interesting.

    Growing up I always considered myself an introvert/melancholic temperament. Recently I have realized that this is not necessarily me. It was my upbringing that “helped” me to be so fearful, so protective, so ashamed of my own skin. Now I love talking to people, sharing about myself, learning more about them and spending time with one or two people at a time. While I do enjoy time to myself, I thoroughly enjoy connecting with others (just so long as it isn’t in a big crows).

    I don’t know where this puts me on the scale of introvert/extrovert, but I am thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to learn about myself and seek authenticity with those around me.

  28. 42
    Beth Williams says:

    I could easily relate to your story. I was super shy all through high school. My problem was punctured ear drums–couldn’t hear good so didn’t speak well. 2 aurseries did not work on the left ear, the right one did get fixed.

    Had to take speech classes–where they teach you how to pronounce letters properly all through high school. Didn’t speak much due to not being understood–very frustrating!

    I believe it hindered me in life some, but now I’ve become somewhat of an extrovert. I enjoy being around people and talking some. My hubby is an introvert and does not like being around a large group of people & neither do I.

    Authentic to me looks like having a small group of friends that you can talk to about anything and everything. It also entails listening & praying for others. Being open & honest about problems. My women’s bible study group is a lot like that. Everyone seems free to open up and “let it all hang out” if you will. But the biggest thing we remember is that it all stays there–NO GOSSIP!

    Loved the post!

  29. 43

    I always have been shy. As a 32-year old mother of three, I still am. I wish I were that outgoing extrovert who could take command of a room. I wish I were that girl that everyone wanted to be friends with. The one who could make friends with the flash of her smile. I’m not. I struggle in groups. Being authentic in a community for me is a struggle. I hope to have confidence to just be plain old me in a community, but often I am nervous, I sweat, I ramble.
    Thanks for sharing your heart.

  30. 44
    Regina Wolfe says:

    I absolutely loved your post! What a great topic.

    This is something I have often been thinking of lately. I truly feel that I’m quiet unless God has something for me to say. I mean, I love having a good time and I can laugh loudly and a lot! :) And if people were to describe me, they would say I am full of joy and open and vulnerable and authentic and often can be the life of the party. Man, I wish I could see myself the way they see me but I’m getting there!

    Here’s an example-When I go to Homegroup(which is a bible study twice a month), I find myself not talking as much or even not praying out loud every single time. This has been a source of anxiety for me. I say to myself, “Why am I not talking or why am I not praying?” I believe the Lord is asking me to wait and not just say any idle word that comes to me. He wants to use us as His instruments of peace, joy, and wisdom. How can we be that if we are not being still enough to hear His voice and be used in this way?

  31. 45

    Reading all the comments, it seems like we all want similar things…..having friendships like “extroverts”, even though we think of ourselves as “introverts”. I was thinking….why can’t some of us be quiet and others don’t need to be as quiet. Us introverts….are we just insecure? I never feel confident enough to speak up. I tend to think I don’t have any thing important to say, ….or I think that people don’t want to listen to me for very long, that I may be boring…. I don’t know…..we are all made completely different….some need to talk more and some like to listen more…..is it insecurity?? ….or personality??

  32. 46

    Everyone I know would describe me as an extrovert. I’m talkative & outgoing in a social setting, but I get my energy from alone time. I prefer to stay at home & select my social gatherings carefully. I like silence. As someone else mentioned, I am uncomfortable when my spouse draws attention to us in public. The older I get the more introverted I become. I lose patience with inane conversation & “the noise that fills the void.”

  33. 47

    I feel like I could have written this post myself! This describes me to a T.
    Always searching to find myself while trying to be what I think everyone else wants me to be as well. What was acceptable to not stand out. I hated the word “shy” growing up, I didn’t feel like I was shy, I just didn’t have much to say and I liked to think on what I was going to say before I spoke.
    I hate to think of myself as a people pleaser, but that is exactly what I have become, and God is dealing with me on this.
    Thanks for writing this post! I’m planning on checking out the books you suggested.

  34. 48

    As at least a couple others have said, I am an introvert, but I do not consider myself shy. I find public speaking (I was even on the debate team in high school) and interacting with strangers invigorating … as long as I have time before hand and after to process/decompress.

    But especially in large group settings (where I feel the least comfortable), if I were forced to always share my thoughts and processing in the name of authenticity, it would be anything but authentic. And it would often be incomplete, since it takes me so much longer to think through questions and discussions in that setting. So, yes, in those settings, sometimes being quiet is authentic. However, I am also (slowly) realizing that part of the processing that seems obvious to me is not so obvious to the extroverts around me and they appreciate my perspective, even when it seems incomplete to me (potentially I have a higher standard for myself than they do, which is probably a whole separate issue…).

    I would love to read “Introverts in the Church” as well – I’ve heard great things about it.

  35. 49

    I am so resonating with YOU! As a confirmed, dyed in the wool introvert, I found Adam McHugh’s “Introverts in the Church” to be a wonderfully, freeing gift to me. I finally understood who I was, why I responded to life the way I do, why God called me to be a pastoral counselor.

    And yes, I am reading Susan Cain’s “Quiet” even as we speak. Understanding how introverts function in life and society is bringing me additional understanding and appreciation for where we’re coming from.

    All you introverted mommies might enjoy these words of encouragement below, along with the links that follow -
    http://creeksideministries.blogspot.com/2011/08/introverted-mommies.html

    Again – many thanks! Always so sweet to discover another kindred spirit …

  36. 50

    I guess this underscores the fact that I truly am extroverted…while I was the ‘shy twin’ in high school, but I’ve been wondering how extroverted I am as I’ve started writing more:}

    Anyhow, in community, I lead with open vulnerability. I share the real struggles and sometimes it is very lonely because others aren’t ready to do the same. It’s a journey in my own motives as to why I share. As an extrovert, I think you want to share to be understood. At least that’s been me most of my life. But living in the Gospel you lay down that need to be understood and share openly sacrificially. You share so others will know they are not alone in their struggles and you pray that you lead others to the freedom to know they are loved enough to share themselves. That’s what I feel like I’ve learned…;}

  37. 51

    Love this post! I am an introvert as well. Crowds make me feel panicky and all I can think of is how to escape. I value peace and quiet and would rather stay home than go out. The Lord made us all different and unique and we are all loved, whether we’re shy or not!

  38. 52

    Yes. I was just telling my 14 year old quiet daughter that I was the kid who wouldn’t speak outside of my family when I was little. I was the kid who would fall to pieces if an adult or teacher would speak to me. I would wet my pants in school rather than approach a teacher to ask permission to go to the bathroom. Now at 36 I have found ways around my introverted nature and can be outgoing and inclusive with strangers. However, my natural tendancies are still introverted. The books you mentioned intrigue me. :)

  39. 53

    I like this. I was shy and introverted growing up, because I was afraid. Then I forced myself to LOOK extroverted because that’s what others thought was the real me…

    Today, I feel like I have a choice, and the real me can do either thing: be quiet or be loud. I’m grateful that I was forced to try looking more extroverted for a while, so that I could make a choice. And now I’m glad that I don’t force myself to do anything anymore.

    I think every person has the right to find their own happiness in their own way. And that includes being shy.

  40. 54
    Jessica says:

    I can completely relate to the concept of being an introvert in an extrovert’s body. I consider myself to be an introvert; shy, soft spoken and preferring to keep to myself. I’ve even grown to long for the quiet of my own company, versus being with friends and family. Being by myself is where I’m comfortable; I can truly be myself.

    However, my job demands that I be an extrovert. Monday-Friday I am meeting with clients back-to-back, many of whom are depressed and at their personal rock bottoms. I need to be that friendly face. I need to be a refuge. I need to show them that I am oh-so-happy that they decided to meet with me today. I know this is God’s assignment for my life – to help, to serve, to provide a warm environment for people at their lowest of lows. I thank God every day for my job and that He’s allowed me to work in this capacity, and I pray that through my “forced” extroversion, I am somehow shining His light into the world. But I must confess that when Friday rolls around, I’m done. No, not burnt out, just at my extrovert-quota for the week. And then I retreat to the quiet of my home where I can just be myself and recharge for the coming week. It’s a fine balance and I know God has His fingers in all of it, so I never complain. It’s His will, not mine; I was wonderfully created (the intro-extro that I am).

  41. 55

    I am a 50yr old PW and have struggled with this to a certain degree throughout our ministry. I too would consider myself an introvert, but not shy. I need my space and minister best one on one as opposed to a crowd. It can be misunderstood, but I know that in the quiet, God is growing me…in the quiet, He is comforting me…in the quiet, He is sorting out the chaos that surrounds. This, then equips me to do the work, whatever it is that He has called me to.

    So I try to be me and in the aftermath often sense the disappointment that I am not who others think I should be, but…..sometimes that’s just the way it has to be. I need to be, I must be who God designed me to be. Phil 1:6 is one of my life verses….knowing that I can be confident that He is carrying on the work until it is completed!

  42. 56

    Yes!!!!! Be 100% who God designed in you, Emily. Let Him stretch and grow you, but not at the cost of fighting who He made in you at the start. I LOVE that you’re sharing this. It’s my heart’s cry for women too: http://livingpower.blogspot.com/2012/03/you-are-perfect-yes-you-seriously-just.html

    We’re talking at Moms Together about this very thing today. It would be a joy to have you and these insights there too, if you have a moment to come by!

  43. 57

    I just got Adam McHugh’s book from the library and am really looking forward to reading it. For most of my life, I’ve believed I am an extrovert (though the MBTI test always ends up around 51/49 in favor of extrovert, so it’s a just-barely sort of thing). But in the past few years, I’ve realized how much I need my alone time, my quiet time. Part of figuring that out has meant learning not to say everything that’s on my mind (because I always feel so awful afterwards) and being okay with the role of observer instead of star of the show every once in a while.

  44. 58

    I think I am learning that being authentic may be both for both introverts and extroverts; it’s being quiet when we need to be for the sake of others and speaking up when necessary also for the sake of others. Either stance is not authentic (to our faith) if it is done only to protect ourselves or to get things out in the open. What may differ is the comfort level in obeying the Holy Spirit when we act in a way that normally is out of our comfort zone, namely, when I have to be quiet as an extrovert or when I need to speak up (in love) as an introvert. We need wisdom and to remember the verses “Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth except that which will be wholesome for the building up of hearer” and “speak the truth in love to one another”. It seems to me that love is the guide for authenticity regardless of our personality type and our authenticity will be impacted or governed by our faith and love! So…it all depends!!

  45. 59

    I am so looking forward to Quiet! Please, when you read it, discuss it here or at your blog.

    If being authentic means being true to who you are, then being quiet feels pretty natural for this introvert. Of course, being true to who I am isn’t always the most lovely thing about me or best thing for me, though it has kept me out of trouble at times. Then there have been times where I’ve spewed such ugliness that I’ve left horrendous scars, spoke out of hurt and fear in ways that were inappropriate, especially within the church community. Especially as the pastor’s wife. Believe me, I was 100% authentic then, and it didn’t serve me (or anyone else) well.

    Your young self (and the transformation you experienced as a don’t rock the boat sort) reminds me so much of a manuscript I’ve puttered with for eleven years. I’m working on revision round 1,000 with my agent. If it ever sees the light of day, I’ll let you know. :)

  46. 62

    I would also like to recommend ‘The Introvert Advantage’ for any of the introverts out there who lack confidence in being themselves. I have found it very helpful in understanding my daughter who is a softly spoken, gentle (but with inner strength and determination) 14 year old, and self-identified introvert, and in encouraging her to be confident in being who she is.
    On a slightly humourous note – her self-identification came at three years of age, with an expression we still use to describe the need to withdraw from company. When her capacity to enjoy being with others (and as is the case with most introverts, she enjoys people – just doesn’t want to be the centre of attention) – she would say, “Can we go now? I’m ‘peopled out’!”

  47. 63

    My job requires me to be an extrovert, but as I learned In Quiet (Cain), I can “perform” when I need to as long as I can renew alone later. I like how you posed the question about whether being quiet IS being authentic. And yes, it’s a stretch to ignore my introversion for certain periods of time, but I’ve seen God work in me to make that happen. I’m really enjoying learning more about introversion, and Quiet helped quite a bit.

    • 64

      I can’t wait to get into that book. When I speak at women’s retreats, I am definitely “on” Not in a fake way, but I have to find the energy it takes to do them. And I find it, but it helps to know I have quiet to look forward to after.

  48. 65

    I really identify with this! God has taken the “timid” part of me and replaced it with a deep desire to connect with others that makes it much easier to break out of my shell and talk to people. But I am still by nature an introvert…I would never have guessed that I would be as socially active as I am and be connected to as many people as I am now. I’m sure a lot of people would consider me an extrovert. But I still have to remember to give myself down time, because it can be very overwhelming to my introvert self at times to be where I am today. Thanks for this post!

  49. 66

    I love that someone brought this up! I think it has to look different for different personalities!

  50. 67
    Cathy Dotson says:

    I too am an introvert, although I have developed some compensatory behaviors to survive in my work world, I still operate very much as an introvert. I too have been considering reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet. But I love the part of the books title that comes after the colon: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. People, even loved ones, misunderstand that I frequently need time to process before I respond to certain questions. Processing does not mean bouncing ideas off of someone/anyone, but internal time to look at a question/issue to form an informed opinion or response. Struggling with this now in a relationship. Hm, good reminder to honor my process. Thanks all.

  51. 68
    Suzanne says:

    Thanks, Emily, for a very “dead on” article. As an almost extreme introvert, FAR away from the center, I’ve heard the stretching beyond what I can do and be naturally to what God can supernaturally do and be in me IF I let Him. I understand and agree with all that to a point, but wonder where the reciprocity is in this. My husband and I are both energetically depleted by the large crowds, loud music, and busy pace of many extroverts. It’s not that we don’t love the people or spend any time with them. And believe me, I stretch myself to be hospitable and reach out to others. In the month of December, we had 84 different people in our home. In January, we had another 14. We manage to make it work when we need to do that. But, recently, I had a sweet friend tell me that she appreciates the peaceful calm and quiet that surrounds me and reigns in my home. She appreciated the fact that I tuned in to what she was saying, that I listened without trying to interject my thoughts, and that I just was THERE for her. She was dealing with a mighty heavy burden and her heart was breaking, and she didn’t find comfort, peace, nurturing, encouragement or love from her more extroverted friends. She found them trying to take her out for a fun afternoon of shopping, to cajole her into the latest movie, to meet them for dinner. All because they were trying to help her “in their way”. And bravo to them! It just wasn’t what she needed at the time. Might I point out that most extroverts don’t have the natural ability to be quiet, calm, still, totally attentive listeners, and many never try to cultivate it because it “goes against their nature”? No, I don’t want to live my whole life in my comfort zone, but I also don’t want to change everything about the way God made me because then who could minister the extrovert in needs of a break or (gasp) the other introvert? Where will people go when they need the listening ear, the calm reassurance, the tender touch, or the peaceful environment?

  52. 69

    Loved this post! I am very much a deep-thinking introvert. Being introverted for me means I need to process what I think or how I feel. I’ve also become very good at being a person I thought other people would like – so I also struggle with sharing my thoughts because I want to be liked. I struggle with making one on one connections with people, but for some reason, I don’t have a hard time sharing in group situations, especially if we are discussing something I had a chance to read/study before the group. I also love my alone time and could easily become a hermit!

    I’ve thought a lot about authenticity in the past few years as I’ve been faced with major marital & financial struggles. I want to be authentic, but then I’m faced with how my “realness” is ugly and very self-focused… while the pain and struggle are real, admitting them out loud to someone else didn’t seem like how a “good Christian” should respond. And because I want to be liked, I don’t want to be perceived as someone who’s always complaining. So, I kept it all to myself… until recently when I found out my best friend had been struggling for years in her own marriage and is now facing divorce (yes, even as best friends, we never shared our struggles in our marriages!). Somehow there has to be a way for women to be able to be honest and authentic about the true struggles and heartaches we face in marriage (and life) so that we can help one another through them instead of suffering silently, thinking we are alone while putting on a happy face and pretending all is fine. I’m coming to the conclusion that God has given me this story – definitely not the one I wanted – but it is HIS story for His glory. And because I struggle with being an introvert, He’s given me the story to share – to push me out of my comfort zone and reach out to others… maybe even to finally be able to make those connections with other women I’ve always wanted.

  53. 70

    Emily,

    Wow, great post!

    “Perhaps for those of us who are naturally introverted, being quiet is being authentic.”

    As a child, I was very extroverted…and grew into an introverted skin due to being really hurt so much. So my whole life, up until a few years ago, I’ve struggled to understand if I am a suppressed extrovert or an an unauthentic introvert (because get me with one, up to about 10, in a room…I am a happy bird and will chat your ear off. In the midst of a crowded room, please either get me to the sidelines or out of the room and quickly unless you want a clam in your midst.). But this one line you posted really switched my mindset, and really confirmed…I am introvert, and I believe I was even as a child. I just wanted to badly as a child to be accepted, I did the opposite of my nature to try and be such. Yet, thankfully, within the past handful of years…I have stopped trying to fit in and just be what God created me to be. His child for His purpose.

    Thank you for this today. I needed this confirmation and encouragement. :)

  54. 71

    I’m the girl who whispers in tongues in the back of a regular baptist church. I have friends across the globe with a variety of interests. For me, authenticity in community is being true to who I am, and acknowledging that bits of me may never be revealed to certain people. I’m not being a fraud, but rather I am being safe in the circumstance–and constantly juggling when to share and when to be silent. When I am most authentically myself I am being a watcher, so true is silent for me as well.

  55. 72

    “But community might look very different depending on your personality. What does being authentic in community look like for you?” you asked.
    I like what Nancy said, “I never meet a stranger” (as an extrovert) and Brenda (as an introvert), “quite introverted but not in the least shy. “…. I will def. need to read Quiet by Susan Cain, it sounds interesting.
    I think we can be many things at different times. For me quiet as a child was normal but even in being a funloving teenager, college student and young employee and the need to be more outgoing and social does not mean I left my need for quiet and introspection.
    So my answer to that (earlier) question is, I think no matter who we are we need a balance that is just right for us, there is a time for everything from the noisy to the quiet and there can be peace in social situations and strife in quiet ones…. community would be sharing, helping, being there in ways that are respectful in body and word and not pushy because, as a bit of an introvert/quiet loving extrovert (who am I?!) I value my time to recharge and am so appreciative when that need is valued and respected.

  56. 73
    Ashley R says:

    Emily,
    You have hit the nail on the head with this one.
    As a minister’s wife, I often have to step outside of my quiet, more introverted self. I have to make a conscious effort because that is not how I would naturally act. I once had another pastor tell me that I was the quietest woman he had ever met and we had only known each other for about a week (we were on a mission trip)!

    I think there are certain situations that we can let our quietness and introspection shine, but then God puts us in situations that force us to reach out of our comfort zone and live in a way that is difficult for us. These situations are what draw us even closer to God.

    Thank you though for this reminder, that it is okay to be quiet me :) I sure do like it that way!

    *AR*

  57. 74

    Hi again Emily,
    Here is the link to the posts I wrote about in my previous comment…if you have never visited Melody’s blog before or the Brave Girls Club blog, may you be highly encouraged. She also recently wrote about being a sometimes hermit.
    http://melodyross.com/writing.htm

  58. 75

    “Introvert”, “extrovert”. I grew up being called an introvert, quiet, shy, too sensitive. My sister was called the extrovert. Needless to say, I grew up believing my parents and a few others. But that was NOT who I really was to be in Christ. Nor are either of those LABELS who any of us are in Christ.

    I agree that we might have certain tendencies towards this or that because of how God wonderfully created each of us. But, who we were as we were born and grew as “natural men or women are NOT the totality of who we are! I strongly disagree with labeling anyone with personality types. As we do this with ourselves or others, we can really limit ourselves or others, putting people in a box, expecting or not expecting, rather than just relating and loving others, seeing potential and places to surrender to God and give up our comfortable ways and tendencies so that we can go from glory to glory. And from strength to strength.

    And sometimes we really need to “fight” against those “natural” tendencies in the sense that they go against who we REALLY are in Christ and have the potential to be in Christ. (In the bible, “natural” man is not who we are anymore.) What is God’s main concern and “job” with us as human beings? For Him to CONFORM us to the IMAGE of CHRIST. Allowing Him, by His Spirit to work and move through us. To learn increasingly to WALK in and by the Spirit of God. NOT to obey the flesh or the old nature or its tendencies/fallen personality. But rather, if we see any wrong way, any fearful, unChristlike way in us, to bring it to the Lord, confessing, renouncing, repenting of it. Our God is in the “changing business” by His grace and by His discipline of us, so that we can reap a harvest of righteousness and peace!

    We can learn some good info from personality tests or typing, BUT we are SO MUCH MORE than a type! MORE than an “introvert” or “extrovert”, ESPECIALLY as a believer! As I consider this, doesn’t it all get a bit self-focused if we cling to and look at that? Sometimes to the point of not taking responsibility for moving forward, growing, stretching in the Lord. ie, “Oh, that’s just the way she is…” Or “I can’t do/be that, or don’t have to or want to do/be that, because I’m an __________.” What happened to being led by the Word and the Holy Spirit of God?

    My undergrad, post=grad, and spiritual background, training, education is that of of a teacher and counselor, both in secular and biblical settings, so I know the personality types, testings, and assessments very well. I’ve had to toss out anything in my education that does not conform with the Spirit and the Word of God. First and foremost I’m a follower of Christ, and usually encourage individuals to learn a bit of how you were made, and in your fallen state from instruments like that, but now you are a NEW CREATION in CHRIST. The old has passed away! The new has come! (BTW, this is not to say that it doesn’t take time to root out lies or behaviors one has believed and causes them to make slow or no progress in their walk.) But the truth is God’s Word, and what He says about us stands firm forever and CAN set us free as we believe, hold fast, and live by the truth of who we are now in Christ.

    One or two questions as I close: Would our Lord Jesus Christ label Himself as an introvert or an extrovert? I think neither. Only that He was about the Father’s will and obeyed the Father, walking in and by the Spirit of God in truth and in love. If we are to be conformed more and more closely to His image, then how else can we live our lives? And therefore we are to not pigeon-hole ourselves or others with labels which can minimize His sanctification in us.

    In His love and truth, for His glory,
    Deb

  59. 77

    Susan Cain gives a short TED talk about this subject. Her book is also really interesting but I saw it was on your reading list already. As an introvert that can be very extroverted in social situations when I need to be I don’t relate 100% on any one definition because I love talking and being social but I hate small talk and chit chat and even with amazing company and conversation, I’ll still need to recharge or I’ll feel so drained and overwhelmed. It doesn’t mean I’m antisocial, but yes, I’d usually prefer alone to company for at least part of the time. http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts.html

  60. 78

    I feel so compelled right now, after reading Deb’s comment, to share one more resource. Pastor Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch spoke in this podcast, http://www.lifechurch.tv/watch/getting-past-your-past/1 about breaking the labels that bind. Deb is right, we may lean toward a certain type but ultimately we are each unique individuals who are fearfully and wonderfully made with such intricacy by our Creator and Lover of Our Soul.

    • 79

      Amen and amen! Thanks SO much, Christina for this link. I have not heard many godly teachers address this subject of not labeling, putting in a box/pigeon-holing, or breaking the labels that bind. (even the “gift assessments” which again can be useful, BUT the Holy Spirit moves and gifts as HE sees fit at any moment! The same can be applied to spiritual gifting) So I will definitely be listening to that podcast.

      The other thing that I thought of after commenting above is monumental in living free to be who we are in the Lord…and that is to REALLY KNOW and BELIEVE who we are in Christ, Who Christ is in us, AND Who/What/How very LOVELY is the Person of our God to and for us! When we believe those truths increasingly and more deeply, we are less easily shaken and can concentrate on fixing our eyes, mind, heart on Jesus and on putting others ahead of ourselves. This process also can progressively expose the lies and walls in our minds that keep us from living the abundant Christian life.

      Anyone who is interested in living the abundant Christian life where you know Christ as your all sufficiency, find articles online about the Exchanged Life, the Victorious Life, the Overcoming Life, the Fragrant Life, etc. and any of the authors associated with that like Hudson Taylor, Andrew Murray, Amy Carmichael, Major Ian Thomas, or go to this link of an abbreviated form of a fantastic book, “They Found The Secret”. You won’t be sorry, but rather encouraged and challenged.:-)
      http://books.google.com/books/about/They_Found_the_Secret.html?id=ay9m4C2G98oC

      Or choose a modern day author like Neil Anderson or sites like these to let go of the labels, lies, false beliefs or ideas that get in the way of so many things and live in the identity of who you really are in Christ:
      http://www.ficm.org/index.php?command=faqs
      http://www.freedomfromaddiction.org/site/Home.html
      (you don’t have to be an “addict” of anything to go there–especially to the articles about “Truth that frees”. Amazing stuff!)

      Again, thanks so much, Christina! You spurred me onward with a few more thoughts for blessing the brethren here…

  61. 80

    I’m probably one of the least introverted people on the planet, but I’m married to and parent and love many an introvert. A while after we moved back to my hometown, when I started to get antsy for deeper connection, I started a book club (a bench, as the Nester calls it, to connect). We’ve been reading and talking and staying up way to late each Thursday since fall, and it has been great. We keep circling around the introvert/extrovert differences of processing and community, and we realized recently that almost the whole group is introverted. Someone suggested Quiet (for introverts & those who love them!) for our next book.

  62. 81

    Great food for thought! I value authenticity but I also expect everyone to be just like me–friendly and out-going. I agree–authenticity doesn’t mean just blabbing all your business. Sometimes extroverted types like ME should keep our mouths shut, too…and sometimes the extroverts need to boldly speak up. It’s giving grace to each other on our individual journeys because we’re all learning and growing in authenticity and in our faith. Thanks for the insight!!

  63. 82

    I so appreciated reading this. I am an introvert to the core, but I make myself be an extrovert in social situations – and then I come home exhausted. When I am in groups and am being my “real” self I have been described as aloof and snobbish and so I force myself to talk, talk, talk.
    When I know someone well, I am very talkative and I think that’s because I feel free and unjudged and comfortable.
    I have also been described as being “wise” in meeting situations because I prefer to listen rather than interject my opinion. Go figure!
    I am who God made me to be and I am comfortable with that.

  64. 83

    Thank you so much for writing about this necessary topic with an acceptance for the introvert. The books you list sound great.

  65. 84

    Thanks so much for this Emily… a lot of this actually resonated with me. I somehow shifted from a little girl who loved performing through ballet, gymnastics and drama into a girl who was painfully shy and had to be told “louder!”. As you said, “an introvert in an extrovert’s body”, but the thought of networking with strangers or trying to make new friends brings me out in a cold sweat. When I tell people (particularly work colleagues) that i’m naturally shy by nature, they genuinely look shocked, and I guess I became an expert at trying to fit in. Lately though it’s a habit that God is gently undoing. Silence often makes me feel uncomfortable and i feel the need to fill the space with useless chatter, so this challenge of shutting your mouth really hits home and is something I’m working on! I love though your explanation of the spiritual transformation – I hate being put in front of people, I’m shy and go a deep shade of beetroot when I feel that people are looking at me… so God made me a worship leader. I know that people aren’t actually looking at me and all that, but it’s still a real leaning process in to God, relying on His strength to cover my weaknesses… it’s awesome. But anyway, this post has such relevance because these days I think in some church situations there’s such a pressure to be super friendly and outgoing etc etc and it can on occasion come across as fake, so I think there’s a place for just being real/authentic, being quiet and shutting your mouth :)

  66. 85

    Emily – You spelled this all out very well. I am the extreme introvert and shy – to the core. To me, a large group is anything more than eight people. It has just been in the last couple years I have begun to understand introvert for what it really is – not energized by people, and that it is okay.

    I also grew up aiming to please, for the purpose of “staying under the radar” of attention. When in a group of three or four, I can be just as loud as any of them – but I will need a break afterwards, no matter how much I love whoever I was with.

    As far as “What does being authentic in community look like for you?” I think this is being true to ourselves and who God has made us. He equips us to do His good and perfect will. I spent many years thinking there was something wrong with me, until I learned I just need re-coop time after physical community time. I don’t have to fake it – that is me being untruthful.

  67. 86

    I am very much an introvert. I have always been painfully shy, and the quiet sort. I DO still stay in touch with my one best childhood best friend since kindergarten… It’s been 50 years!! I have a hard time opening up, or (GASP!) speaking in front of a group of people. My husband is my best friend and I have a few close friends. I’m perfectly okay with this.
    Lisa

  68. 87

    Funny that you’d write this today of all days.

    As I was finishing today’s challenge for Allume’s 31 Days to a Better Writer, I saw that we were being encouraged to critique one another. I was like, um, NO! I wouldn’t dream of it!

    I think a lot of it, at least for me, is cultural. I was raised (and still live) in the South where the “nastiest” thing we might say would be “Bless your heart.” Our golden rule was “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all”, which was translated pretty much as if it’s not a compliment, don’t say it.

    Tough balance, those two (introvert/extrovert).

  69. 88
    Julie Cooper says:

    Emily, I am an introvert on all the scales – but I am a teacher, a pharmacist, and a mom of small children – I have had to find serious margin in my life to give God the room to fill my well so I can authentically share the gifts he has given me with others. In The Good and Beautiful Life James Bryan Smith talks about the importance of margin, or space for God to speak into our lives as a spiritual practice for spiritual formation. Mercifully God has given me the time and support I need to carve out this margin. Reading the Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney really helped me see that God created me this way and that it is NOT BAD. Authenticity in any community is about being who you are – in our Jesus community no matter the shade of flesh brokenness – we are covered in Christ. Leaning into Him, letting go of the flesh and embracing life in the spirit happens in quiet corners for this introvert. Perhaps being an introvert is one-way God makes my “clay pot” clear to me -I can now freely thank Him for this. Ultimately without Him as my source I crumble (Isn’t this true for us all introvert or extrovert?)

  70. 89

    “Introvert Advantage.”

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  71. 90

    I think that God honors it when we are honest with ourselves, others, and Him. I was born without a shy bone in my body – but through life lessons and a LOT of His Grace, have become comfortable in the quiet, in the stillness, even (gasp!) alone.
    I think it’s more important to be honest, than talkative. Good for you to recognize the way He created you, and how society/peer pressure/life made you to change.
    You have found your lovely life in written form!
    Thanks for sharing!!

  72. 91
    Gloria says:

    Want a smile? My husband just asked me the other day which of our children I thought was the most outgoing. I paused to consider and our youngest piped up, “Josh is! He goes out on walks all the time!” :)

  73. 93

    I was going to mention the Susan Cain Ted Talk, but see someone already did. I did see Deb’s comment and just thought I’d share what “labels” have done for me. It has been in learning about myself and how God has wired me, that I am empowered to grow and move forward. By recognizing my strengths, and better knowing my weaknesses and uncovering blind spots, I better know the areas that I need to be more intentional about surrendering and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in. Knowing that I am an introvert is not as limiting as some might think. For me it has actually been freeing. The knowledge that I am an introvert, helps me understand how I process information, how I recharge, and in turn how I am best prepared to engage with others. And the most freeing thing for me, is understanding that my introversion is not a mistake but is part of an intentional design for God to use as He has purposed. This sounds obvious, but when you grow up in a world where outgoing, gregarious, extroversion is the model to aspire to, you grow up feeling deficient and wondering, “What’s wrong with me?” I don’t wear the name “Introvert” around on a nametag or anything, but it does describe me, and helps other know me. In the same way, I could say I’m not a great singer. It doesn’t mean that I won’t sing, or that I don’t like to sing, it just might suggest that I’m not the person God has purposed to bless the hearts of others with song. I’m not limiting myself by acknowledging I’m not particularly musical, I’m just stating a fact. I believe God would rather have me honor Him with my gifts, such as painting and writing, than trying to broaden my horizons doing something that I am clearly not gifted for when there are others who clearly are. That is the beauty of the body of Christ – each one of us a unique and essential part, complimenting each other in our strengths and weaknesses, working together for the glory of God.

  74. 94

    I’ve read Introverts in the Church and it was very good. I’m a super introvert. On tests I come out about as introverted as you can get. Many don’t realize it though, especially if they only see me in small group situations at church or helping people at work, because my parents worked hard to teach me how to behave in social situations – to ask questions and stay engaged so people feel loved. But it truly drains every ounce of energy I have to be around people. People don’t understand, but I consider doing anything with almost anybody to be work. Even what some people consider fun social situations or supportive “community” time are work to me. For me authenticity means balancing the need to speak up and connect with others, showing who I am to people even when I fear people will think I’m ridiculous, like I often do, with getting ample time alone (and I mean A LOT of time alone) and not feeling pressured to be social when I truly cannot. I was made to be this way and being authentic means owning my personality and using my unique gifts and that doesn’t mean that everyone will see them or know me, because I was not made to live my life that way.

  75. 95

    this is a topic that has fascinated me for a year. i am an extrovert, married to a strong introvert for 14 years. i think i had to grieve the fact that my husband wasn’t becoming the person i tried to make him into, in a way. i wrote about it last year on my blog. i love my introvert so much and it has been so worth the effort to respect and defend his introversion, in a culture that doesn’t always get it.

    my post : http://indecentorder.blogspot.com/2011/08/thoughts-on-marrying-introvert.html

  76. 96

    This so speaks to my heart. Thank you for sharing. I’m a “reforming extrovert”, meaning that like you I trained myself to be an extrovert because it got me what I wanted or needed, but I’m currently trying to uncover that true me, that must be somewhere in the middle (right??)

    I’m struggling to find out how an introvert engages authentically in a group. I hope you’ll write more about your journey in the future. It would be a privilege to read your musings, and to have them inform my own.

  77. 97

    i like this post. i definitely think that being quiet can be authentic for an introvert. i also think that people tend to forget that you don’t necessarily HAVE to have an opinion about EVERYTHING; and if you do have one, you don’t ALWAY have to share it.

  78. 98

    I am a little late to reading this, but as an introvert, I completely relate. My question, actually the pain of my heart right now, is: as an introvert, how do you let another introvert be him/herself when both of you are silent? My dad is an introvert, and since childhood his silence has felt like deeply painful neglect. He doesn’t reach out, and so if I don’t then there’s barely a relationship. But it’s hard to be the one forcing yourself to reach out all the time, especially when the hurt of feeling unseen and neglected has built up over so much time. I’m struggling so much with this right now, trying to think and do the right things, but it usually just feels easier to avoid the relationship altogether.

    • 99

      My mom is kind of like that. I know she loves me and she does many actions to show she loves me but spending time together or just chatting is not something she usually initiates. It kind of bothers me at times but then I have to remind myself that I am just exactly like her. My husband (a total extrovert) complains all the time that I don’t initiate anything! lol I don’t have advice except maybe just realize that it’s his personality, not that he doesn’t love you.

  79. 100

    I have a problem with people not understanding that I am not good “chit chat” just to be talking (I love to write a lot though). I really have to be in the mood to talk. And when I am in a group situation and try to talk, most people don’t even hear me and talk right over me, and I don’t have a soft voice either. I also have struggled with loneliness because I don’t do well with trying to make friends because I can’t go up to someone and just start talking. I have started to get bitter towards people in the past year because I have made efforts to invite people over or to lunch, and they never respond back. I only have one “friend” where I have lived for the past 5 years, and she is mostly an acquaintance, our daughters are friends at church.
    I did go to a lady’s group once and I talked about this in our prayer circle and someone told me that maybe God just wanted me to his self for a season. Well its been 4 years so is God still wanting me all to his self?
    The one friend I do have lives across the country and I have not seen her in like almost 7 years, but we talk frequently online. I think I am a good friend. I listen well, I don’t gossip, I am there when people need something, I am loyal and honest. I like to tease I am loyal like an old dog. That makes my husband laugh and he agrees with me.
    Now one of my daughters is like me and the other one is a social butterfly like my husband. I am not good a social clues either. See, I like to write, just don’t ask me to say all that stuff unless I am in the mood to talk. LOL!

Trackbacks

  1. [...] “When Being Authentic Means Shutting Your Mouth,” Emily Freeman at Incourage (march) “Several years and several moves later, I had learned the fine art of becoming who everyone wanted me to be in order to be accepted. Not in the I’ll-jump-off-a-bridge-too kind of way, more in a I-don’t-rock-the-boat kind of a way. I watched people, learned what got on their nerves, learned what people liked and didn’t like. I wasn’t doing this on purpose. I just really wanted to have a lot of friends. I wanted to be seen as fun. I didn’t want to miss out on anything. Shy didn’t seem okay.” [...]

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