I used to be a social butterfly. I know—GASP. There was a time when I would get together with friends at least once a week, back when we could spend hours in far-off fantasy worlds together without coming up for air.
Now, I go to my fantasy worlds alone. In fact, I do a lot of things alone.
If you had asked me to predict what kind of person I'd become at 18 years old, I don't think I ever would have predicted introversion to the degree I now know it. I mean, I can go for months without seeing anyone beyond family (oh, wait, I already did), online university is a dream come true, and getting together with friends (all of whom I love), while always a blessing, requires me to psych myself up for the system shock of social stimulation, however brief. Where quarantine is concerned, being an introvert has been a blessing. But in almost every other way, it can be a burden.
It's hard sometimes to witness how easy it seems for others to lead outgoing, confident lives, to have these exciting relationships with one another, to connect easily and fully and to have fun without being weighed down by social exhaustion, anxiety, or just the desire to be at home in a cocoon of comfort. I admit, I am envious at times. Lord, forgive me, but it's true. Sometimes I wish I weren't a lone buoy happily bobbing in the tidepool, watching everyone else lead exciting lives together in the deep end.
But here's the thing. It's not their fault. I can't blame them if, at times, I feel disconnected. Friendship and relationships are a two-sided venture, and waiting around for someone to understand me—to understand us, fellow introverts—might take a lifetime if we're not willing to step out and meet the extraverts halfway.
Why am I saying all this? Because self-isolation (outside of the pandemic context, of course) is a slippery slope. It doesn't matter how much we enjoy being alone for the most part: there will come a time when we look at our relationships and realize they're not as strong as they should be, not as healthy, and that it's on us, for letting them slip. For convincing ourselves that we didn't need anyone else, that the world needs introverts to be listening ears and crying shoulders, but introverts just need themselves.
That's not true. We're not supposed to be islands. We're not supposed to take on this life alone. That's why God designed us with the capacity for relationship and encourages us to nurture it, to support one another, to build each other up and connect with others through Christ's love. Building walls may make us feel safe and protected; it may convince us that no one can hurt us, but we're hurting ourselves by trying to handle every struggle alone. Satan wants us alone, and he will capitalize on our isolation, the way a wolf capitalizes on a lamb that stands off from the flock.
Introverts, I feel your struggle. Profoundly. I feel your fatigue, your insecurity, your fear that no one wants your friendship and your dread of doing anything about it because of what it will demand of you. I'm not asking you to become an extravert or suppress God's design for you—how could I? What I'm asking you to do is keep things in perspective. To remember that you need people, relationships, not just with God but with the people He has placed in your life to support you. To remember that they need you, that you have a spiritual duty to be there for them as Christ is there for you. To remember that walls are only false security, however comforting they may feel: when Satan strikes, those walls may turn from a refuge to a cell in a heartbeat.
Reach for God. Reach for others, in whatever way you're able in our circumstances right now. Let love continue. Let's help each other to break down our walls, make meaningful connections, and live the lives that God designed the introverts to richly, fully, victoriously live.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
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