My phone lights up with a late-night confession filled with questions from Taylor Thomas, a fellow introvert who’s dear to me, someone who’s likable and smart, funny and kind. She confesses, “Sometimes I truly wonder why God made me this way,” then asks, “Have you ever dealt with that?”
My answer? Yes, I have sometimes questioned who I am too.
I grew up as a quiet, creative kid, who loved reading books (and dreamed of one day writing one). I enjoyed time on my own but cared about people too, creating a little circle of close friends. I needed time to think before I jumped into a conversation. People often told me I was a good listener. My active mind was always thinking or imagining.
Yet in spite of these strengths, I often wondered, like Taylor, if I needed to change. Maybe I should be louder or better at smaller talk. Fear sometimes still got the best of me. But trying to be someone I wasn’t only made me lonelier and led me to the brink of burnout.
After an especially exhausting year, I sensed God inviting me to stop running from who He created me to be, and instead learn how to thrive as an introvert. I read hundreds of articles, brain science studies, and books on introversion. Pursued a master’s degree in counseling, became a certified life coach, and wrote bestsellers. Collected advice, new and ancient, from introverts all over the world.
I discovered being an introvert isn’t about personality but how our brains and nervous systems are wired. (Three very quick examples: Introverts and extroverts differ in the primary neurotransmitter we rely on, part of the nervous system we use most, and the brain pathway utilized for processing.)
When I look at the creation story I see many complementary pairings, day and night, land and sea, male and female. I’ve come to believe introverts and extroverts are another one of these pairings. We are created as introverts and extroverts, both with incredible gifts and potential.
Research shows what introverts see as struggles may actually be their greatest strengths. For example, introverts have very responsive nervous systems. This means we’re vulnerable to anxiety but it also means we often have deep empathy for others. We use a longer, more complex brain pathway so we sometimes need more time to respond, but when we do we add depth and insight to conversations.
Leadership studies show introverts perform equally well as extroverts. Introverts often have deep social networks based on quality over quantity, including long-term relationships that significantly add to their overall physical and psychological health. And introverts contribute generously and creatively to our culture. So many world-changing causes, works of art, and innovations wouldn’t exist without the quiet efforts of introverts.
I believe our noisy, chaotic world needs what introverts have to offer more than ever before. We are here for such a time as this, created on purpose for a purpose. If you ever question who you are too, or someone in your life does, that can start changing today.
On a lovely autumn evening months after Taylor sent me the text I mentioned at the start of this chapter, she walked down a grass-covered aisle as a stunning bride. After the ceremony, all the guests joined the newlyweds in a barn with tiny lights strung from the rafters.
As I watched Taylor dance in her white dress, I thought, There is a woman who knows how much she’s loved. Despite the setting, I wasn’t thinking of love in the romantic sense. Over the previous few months, I’d gotten to be part of Taylor’s taking steps toward becoming more at peace with her true self, beginning to see her introversion not as a reason for insecurity but as a divine gift—a source of her strengths. She looked freer and happier, more whole and at rest.
God calls us a bride, which has always been mysterious to me, but that moment watching Taylor on the dance floor helped me better understand the analogy. Because what I saw in her is what I think He wants for each of us.
To know we’re made “in an amazing and wonderful way” (Ps. 139:14 NCV).
To be not only comfortable but quietly confident in our skin.
Holley’s brand new book, The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to Be You, officially releases today! Bestselling author Ann Voskamp described it as, “Practical, researched, and profoundly helpful.” This week is your very last chance to get $75+ of free bonuses (the audiobook, Holley’s popular mini-course, and a personal strengths assessment)! Fill out this form and she’ll send the bonuses your way.
I pre order mine, I sure hope I get all the bonuses.
I’ve been so looking forward to this!
Peace and Love!
Hi, Holly! I’ve enjoyed your articles for a long time now, but I never realised that you were an introvert until reading this post. I am as well. Very much so. haha
I ordered the book & am looking forward to it, as well as to the bonus materials & the course.
Being an introvert was always something I knew was part of me, & I’ve always embraced it. There have been times, though, of course, when I wondered how God could use me as an introvert. Keeping to myself a lot of the time, preferring to be out in nature or with animals over being with people much of the time, it took me a long time to realise that God could use me in one-on-one relationships as opposed to larger group settings, & I could spend time in prayer when I’m on my own. Also, loving to read & study is a plus as it helps with I’m studying the Word. I’m often quite content to be still & to focus on whatever I’m doing at the time.
God has created me & you & all the other introverts to be as we are for His purpose, & He can use us in powerful ways in ways that extroverts can’t be used. Of course extroverts have their place & have great purpose as well. As you said, introverts & extroverts have our differences, but they’re complimentary to each other. Both are needed, just as all parts of the body are needed.
Thanks for this article, & I look forward to more from you.
I bought my book from Christianbook! I can’t wait to get it in!!
Beth Williams says
I took the introvert test & found out I’m roughly about 90% introvert. I grew up shy-mostly due to two punctured ear drums. Always been one to love small groups of people 1-10 people at most. Over the past 5 years or so I’ve come out of my shell a lot more-(both eardrums got fixed). I sense I’m like you in a lot of ways. Very empathetic towards people. That’s why my job as ICU Step Down Clerical is a great fit for me. I can help CNAs, RNs, patients & families during their stay at hospital. I also love spending time at home alone or with hubby watching TV or talking. One week I walked into church & the noise level was so loud with many conversations going on. I wanted to walk back out. Can’t take all that noise at once. To much stimuli for my brain. Thanks for doing the research & writing the book. So good to know the major differences between introverts & extroverts. Also interesting to find out some famous people who are introverts.