If you know me at all, you've probably pretty easily figured out that I am not an extrovert by any stretch of the imagination. I don't do small talk well, it's hard for me to spend very long talking about the weather or other trivial subjects others can calmly chat about with no problem. I can easily get stressed out in group settings, and I replay conversations in my head after they happen, and stress about how awkward I must have sounded.
As a Christian, being an introvert poses a unique challenge. It doesn't scare me to go all the way to Africa for a mission trip, but to try to share a personal story in Sunday school or another small group setting makes me stumble over my words and ramble on nervously. I worry sometimes that I must seem odd or even rude when really I'm just thinking things over in my head rather than discussing them with others right away.
The question that worries me most and makes this more than just a part of my personality is this. Does being an introvert make me a bad Christian? If I don't have an elaborate testimony at the ready 24/7 or if I'm not constantly speaking up about what I believe every chance I get, am I doing something wrong? I've been asking myself these questions recently and I'm not sure I have all the answers yet, but I do have some new insight.
I'm a big advocate of getting out of your comfort zone, because Honduras was completely out of my comfort zone and it was one of the most influential experiences in my life so far. But lately as I've been struggling with feeling inadequate as a Christian and as a person because I'm so introverted, I've been considering a new perspective. Have I become so focused on getting out of my comfort zone that I'm ignoring the God given strengths that are comfortable to me? Christians are often encouraged to get out of our comfort zones, which is a great idea, but sometimes it can start to feel like if we're not feeling challenged to the point of being slightly terrified at all times, we're not doing enough. We all have things that we're good at, things that make us feel comfortable and confident, and I believe God must give us those talents for a reason.
I love that I have close bonds with a few good friends, and though there's always a part of me that wishes I were more outgoing and social, I feel like having a small selection of close friends allows me to connect with them on a deeper level. I may not be a good talker, but I try my best to be a good listener, and sometimes that's something people really need.
I'll never be a social butterfly who loves the spotlight, and I'm working on being okay with that. Extroverts are awesome, and I am friends with some of the best. But that's just not me, and I have to learn to accept that. Maybe by making me a hesitant talker, God is reminding me to be an eager listener. When I think about it that way, being this introverted doesn't seem so discouraging anymore.