Saturday, April 21, 2012

Living as an Introvert in an Extrovert Church Culture: Confessions

I recently read a blog post on the topic of being an Introvert in a sometimes Extrovert glorifying church.
As a flamin' Introvert, the majority of the points made were ones I could personally relate to and I thought I'd add my two cents worth below. Please note that this is only a light-hearted address to our Christian society as a whole.

Dear Church People:
* Please do not assume that I am "shy" because I've yet to master the art of interrupting.
Shyness is a social anxiety. Reserve is the withholding of something; in this case, thoughts or feelings. I am the latter. In most social situations (church functions included) I don't feel like I need to comment incessantly during a conversation to be a part of it. Likewise, I'm not likely to interrupt or insert myself into a conversation I overhear. Does that make me shy? No, it means I have a differing sense of decorum in regards to how I converse with others in a large social gathering. The truth is nobody wants to hear about the awesome factoid I learned about ancient Persian battle strategies while at the Church Potluck. I've accepted this sad fact and moved on. So instead of making you suffer through that, I'm usually ok with just listening to you discuss the finer points of Ikea furniture assembly uninterrupted.

* Please do not abruptly ask personal questions and expect a brilliant or even coherent answer.
Introverts as a whole don't generally jump at the chance to share deep personal feelings/thoughts/insights. Things can get messy fast and most of the time the strategy is "avoid avoid avoid". However, the time comes when an introvert has been lured (always unknowingly) into a situation in which such questions are inevitable. If you are the offending brother in these situations do us both a favor and don't spring a "What is God to you?" question right after we ended our discussion on the weather and the merits of pew pencils. If you gave me a week, I'd have flow charts and the works. But the four seconds it took you to ask the question? You'll be lucky if you get a word containing vowels, my friend...

* Please do not believe that just because I am not worshiping like a puppy on espresso, I am secretly a closet Atheist.
Maybe I missed the Sunday we had the "Worship in Sync" instructional video...but the Spirit moves us in different ways, pal. And I don't know about you, but the Spirit moves a little less like Jagger when He gets to me. Sure, I'll stand when you stand but that's just because I'm a Baptist and that's like the 11th commandment.

* Please do not assume that my reserve is a result of piety or humbleness.
Pride, jealousy, bitterness...these sins and ones we Introverts have to resist like the rest of you. For all the negative attributes that can be assigned to us falsely, there are many positive ones too. I'm not quiet because I am "good"; in fact sometimes I'm quiet because I can't say anything nice. Truth is, a good amount of the time we're not talking simply because listening to you guys is much more amusing.

* Please do a better job of masking your shock whenever I do share something willingly.
I can tell you personally that nothing makes me want to clam up like someone commenting on how I rarely talk. Silence is not reserved for idiots and the mentally unsound. In fact, God can be pretty partial to it Himself. Just a thought.

* Please stop "praying away" my singleness.
This is one more so for the family of the Introverts and not necessarily reserved for Introverts only. That being said, I'd probably be pretty well off if I had a dollar for every time someone looked at me like I had a "future crazy cat lady" marquee flashing on my forehead. This "desire to help" may have a lot to do with my being a female Introvert and living in the region of America I do. Please understand: when I say I'm happy with where I am in life and I believe that this is what God wants for me right now, I am not saving face or in denial. I know that's not the case for all solo Introverts, but for me and I think not a few like me, we really would rather those baby orphans of the world be mentioned more in your prayer time than our dying alone after a mountain of cat food fell on us in our "Hoarders"-ish apartment.

* Please do not assume that I hate life/am depressed because I've yet to join your bible study group.
I can only speak personally here, but I have no problem with a two hour weekly bible study. In fact, I'd love to come. What I DO have a problem with is the 45 minute bible study with an hour and 15 minute small talk session. Long stretches of nonconstructive talk time is akin to hell. Small Talk = "Where's the fire alarm?". I can't speak for all Introverts of course, but generally speaking we tend to swing "depth rather than breadth" when it comes to social activities. You want to get together and talk about the word of God, then let's talk about the Word of God. Not gas prices. Not macs. Not Sushi.

* Please do not ever expect me to use the phone unless you have a lethal weapon handy for "encouragement".
I'm sorry. I really am. But I don't care if that AWANA order needs to be filled yesterday, unless the Charlton Heston-esque voice of God Almighty calls down the Thunder, you're going to have one heck of a time getting me to grasp that receiver. I can't explain this unnatural avoidance other than to say that I am dependent on non-verbal clues when conversing, and without that social crutch I feel like bumbling idiot. I will lick envelopes like the dickens and stack chairs until the cows come home...but I'm not talking to Lifeway and I'm not calling Youth parents either.

* Please do not treat me like a person in need of "curing".
You never hear anyone in church say "we need to get more of you to shut up". It's just not done. Somewhere along the way "approach the throne with boldness" superseded "be still and know". One shouldn't trump the other, they both have their place in everyone's walk with God. And those of us who lead our lives and faith in sometimes more subtler ways do not need to be "raised up" to the other "better" way of doing so. God wasn't surprised when he made introverts; we weren't some large scale cosmic error. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Every weird and awkward one of us.

The point of this little ramble is not for people to start pandering to the Introvert crowd. Please. We would never submit to such patronizing behavior. Rather, I just thought I'd shine a little light on what it's like to walk on the wild side and live as an Introvert bother or sister in Christ. :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Film || "You're Looking At Me Like I Live Here And I Don't"

Below is a trailer for an insightful and touching documentary on the subject of Alzhiemer's, "You're Looking At Me Like I Live Here And I Don't".
Shot from the perspective of a single Alzheimer patient without further interviews from doctors, family, etc, it is wonderfully intimate and real.

Don't be scared away by the subject matter; the story is unfolded in a very funny and light-heart manner for the majority of the run time.

Thursday, April 5, 2012