Loving an Introvert Part 3: Can you be both?

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Can you be an Introvert and Extrovert?

I want to begin by stating that I am no expert on this topic other than the fact that I have lived my entire life as an introvert who fell in love with an extrovert.  Our discoveries have been both difficult but successful for our relationship.  My prayer is that you learn to love who you are and this series Loving an Introvert will be a blessing because God loves you.  Psalm 139:14, ” I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”  Two weeks ago a friend asked an interesting question after my post on introverts.  The question was can you be a little of both?  This sparked several conversations around our dinner table, and one result from all the conversations was last week’s post written by my husband, Extrovert’s Perspective.  He gave his perspective and insight as an extrovert married to an introvert.  My husband and I do want to clarify that we are just a minority and our relationship should not be a recipe for others, but our hope was to open conversation and honestly see how both can and do work together.  Everyone needs to find their own recipe.  We know that ours will not work for everyone, but we found it better than the alternative which was lack of understanding and compassion for each other.  Now, back to the question, for me personally, I would definitely answer yes. Although, I feel I have few characteristic of an extrovert, there are many people around me that I feel have both and others who probably are not sure where they fall on the spectrum.  Yet God made us all just the way we are as Ephesians 2:10 reminds, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Where are you on the spectrum?

If we think of the characteristic along a spectrum or axis then each end would be extremes of being an introvert or extrovert, yet many would fall right in the middle.  I believe that everyone would probably place themselves in different spots along this spectrum.  I have asked several friends and family and many feel they have personality traits of each.  Some actually feel that certain settings bring out certain characteristics of either an introvert or extrovert.  I can actually see some of this as I watch my adult children navigate the world.  With DNA from both an introvert and an extrovert in their blood, sometimes they totally blow me away in situations, and then in others I am not sure who they are because they become the total opposite of the person I think I know.  These different personality traits can be driven by specific social situations.  Sometimes it is just natural for some situations to be easy and others to be harder.  These situations according to my children can be depended on how passionate they are about the situation.   Is it job driven? Is it something they believe in? Are all their friends they are comfortable around there?  Or, is a requirement? Is it an expectation and they just don’t want to be there?  These feelings actually cause them to either become and introvert or extrovert in certain situations.  I believe this is how many people view themselves in different situations in their lives.  I will close with Ecclesiastes 3:1, ” For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:”  God Timing is always right.  

My short answer to the question is yes you can be a little of both.  Love who God made you to be.

Closing Verse:  1 Thessalonians 5:11, ” Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

Challenge:  Be confident in who you are and know that God has made no mistakes and open your heart for him to keep working in you.  Encourage those around you to bring out the best in each other.

Loving An Introvert Part 2: Extrovert’s Perspective

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This post is written by Derwin Long, my husband and friend for 28 years.

How Extroverts Love Introverts?  

My wife asked me to write a follow up to her blog last week and immediately I said yes, but then I had second thoughts. Primarily because I got to thinking how can I write this and not come off as being condescending or sounding like introverts are somehow lacking in some important traits. However in the end I obviously decided to write this as I do feel it is important. So with that disclaimer I will attempt to share my experiences and thoughts.

Have you ever been in a social setting (my definition is more than 4 individuals) with mostly couples and notice someone who seems to be totally out of place? They aren’t talking, maybe not even smiling and possibly even separating themselves from everyone. Or maybe they are there and laugh with all the conversations but never say a word (this was my wife). What used to come to my mind at first was that this person was upset, unhappy or just doesn’t like being there or maybe doesn’t like someone that is there? Some of us are the one who is at ease in social settings and in fact enjoy them, but have to answer difficult questions about our introvert spouse? It can be very frustrating getting asked all the questions from your friends, like mentioned above, but ultimately the question is “What’s wrong with him/her?” Personally, I would just play it off with friends and say she is just quiet. At home the conversation was different and at times turned into an argument. Ultimately I had good intentions and just wanted everyone to love the person I knew, but I wasn’t very good at conveying that or understanding what it was like for her.

Coming Together as One

Here is where you might expect to get some great words of wisdom or a recipe for fixing what seems to be broke, but what we found out is that it is pretty simple. We never quit or gave up on each other. We are one, so what one feels the other feels or tries to understand. We are better together because we are different and bring a balance to each other’s life.

Mark 10:8, And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.

Proverbs 27:17, As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

What does this look like in practice for us? Well there are two sides to this, one is how do I help my wife in social settings? There are many examples that show us Jesus was very social and enjoyed weddings (who wouldn’t like to taste his wine), feast and parties.

  • Initially, I would never leave her side at social setting, why would I leave her when I know she needs me to support her. Seems obvious but we have witnessed someone we know that is an introvert get left to fend for herself. This doesn’t work for several reasons: one is that as your spouse is possibly your only source of safety and comfort. Two is that it puts a huge amount of responsibility to entertain and include someone when their sensory system is on overload and looking for someone who really wants to take the time to have a deeper conversation, than the typical social banter is unrealistic in many social settings.
  • After getting more comfortable being in these settings, I would give openings for her to step in to the conversation, which can be difficult when in a group of extroverts. (We had discussed and talked about this before going). I might say “Oh my wife has a story to go along with that, why don’t you tell them” or when opportunity is right share a talent or personality trait that at that time she would never share about herself like. “Do you know she can crochet?” Or “Do you know she can speak whale?” (Finding Nemo). Doing this gives others insight into her and her personality and in a way that gives others a chance to ask questions.
  • Which is another important thing an introvert can do when at a loss for what to say. Have a thought out series of questions that you know and have memorized. After all what is one of the best ways to show sincere interest? Now you may say how is it sincere when you have preplanned these questions? Because you practice what you aren’t comfortable with doesn’t mean you aren’t sincere, it means you want to get better.

Two is how does she help me learn more about myself? There are many examples where Jesus withdrew from everyone and spent time alone with his thoughts and in prayer.

  • Being an Extrovert I can seem somewhat superficial, never taking anything serious, always joking especially in social setting. Some of it is an intentional desire to be liked and be the life of the party, some of it is just a way to disconnect and have fun. My wife has taught me even in social settings to be comfortable going deeper with friends and building stronger relationships. We used to have zero couples that we considered close friends but now we are blessed to have at least 4 or more that we share life with. Ecclesiastes 4:10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
  • She has also taught me that I need time to just do nothing, listen to music, maybe read a book, Bible or just be alone with my own thoughts. There was a time when I couldn’t be still always thinking about what needed to be done or what I wanted to do, but now our favorite place to enjoy downtime is on a beach with several umbrellas and no place to be other than there. These times have been some of my favorite.
  • She has also taught me that not every moment has to be filled with talking whether in social setting or just me and her. That just because no one it talking doesn’t mean anyone is upset and in a social setting just because I think it, doesn’t mean it should be said.

Closing

Ecclesiastes 3:1, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Final thoughts: Ultimately I think we all want close relationships with our spouses, children, friends, and in business. Being an introvert or extrovert can be helpful or it can get in the way. I challenge you to get out of your comfort zone whatever that is and experience life from a different perspective.

 

Loving An Introvert

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Make Peace With Being An Introvert

Recently I found myself in a conversation about a difficult topic that is near to my heart,  introverts.  I know this was not an accident but an opportunity from God to share the many lessons that my husband and I have learned over the years about introverts and how they interact with extroverts.  

In the past, I honestly believed something was wrong with me because I felt different from others, in any setting or interaction.  Yet, God’s Word shows me in Psalm 139:14, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well,” that he made me and it should be well with my soul.  The truth is introverts can struggle in social gatherings.  By learning more about introverts, I have been able to make peace with who I am , and now I can feel more comfortable in a crowd.   I have had to learn how to engage people in conversation.  Sometimes this is more difficult because introverts usually need time to process information before they respond.  This processing can be viewed as shy, quiet or even disengaged and by the time introverts have something to say the moment has past.   Many extroverts in a social setting may constantly dominate the social conversation which leaves no room for an introvert.  Introverts are usually known great listeners, but many times extroverts miss out on their wisdom.  Learning how to engage and respond in various social settings is important for an introvert.  This is where learning from an extrovert, like my husband, can be so valuable.  Now, engaging with people at a social event is not the enormity that it once was for me.

I have a loving God who blessed me with special people who chose to love me.  One is my husband who has helped me learn more about myself and extroverts, so we could understand and grow as a couple. Luke 6:31 reads, “And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Relationships like these are a perfect place for the Golden Rule.  Introverts need down time to recharge, but extroverts need people for energy.  This is a dynamic combination and each must learn to be compassionate in social gatherings.  In the past when I have engaged in social events over and over, it would drain me to the point that others believed I was an unhappy or even mad.  Being able to identify when this is happening is easier now for me to ensure I get the recharge I need.  God created both introverts and extroverts because the world needs both!  My husband and I have unique roles in our relationship.  

Blessing or Curse

My husband shared this article “Introverts Don’t Hate People, They Hate Shallow Socializing”  with me, and I would recommend this read and exploring Introvert, Dear.

This article really helps to understand how introverts respond in social settings.  Extroverts can be a blessing for introverts, but an extrovert can also be a curse.  On the flip side introverts can be the same for an extroverts if both are not learning and working together in the relationship.  God calls us into relationship and made each of us different to complement one another.  The struggle is not letting the curse take hold of relationships.  I am reminded each day that God loves both just by reading Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  I seek the value God places on my husband, the extrovert, and I pray God shows him my value in return.

Back to the earlier conversation I mentioned, I have finally reached a point in my life that I can discuss who I am and talk about myself as an introvert and my experience with people.   This conversation allowed me the opportunity to speak about introverts to a few friends who were struggling to understand a situation with some other friends.  I was able to really explain that situation by sharing my own struggles and successes.  The struggle continues each day as I shared weeks ago in the post “Finding God in my Mirror,” but God is constant and good.  Understanding and loving others is one of Christ final commandments found in Luke 10:27, “And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’” I am blessed by God’s love for me, and I know that I must continue to work at understanding and defining who I am while I love others where they are.  

What has God taught me?  

Love and prayers are the answer.  By providing love and an abundance of prayer my husband and I were able to understand our relationship more deeply and respect the needs of each other.  I pray that for all introverts as they maneuver social settings and deep relationships with extroverts in their lives.

Closing verse:  1 Peter 3:4 “but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

Challenge:  Don’t Judge Others before you really know who they are inside and out.  Get to know a Quiet Spirit more deeply that God has placed in your life.

Friendship vs Relationship

 

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How does one define a good friend?  We all learn what true friendship is at our highest high and lowest low because these are the friends by our side regardless.   Friendship can be one of the hardest yet most rewarding aspect of this life that God has provided for us.  My husband and I have recently found ourselves in the midst of some shocking revelations.  So shocking that family and friends aren’t sure how to respond. Interesting because response is a small part of what we really wanted, which is just being present with us.  True friends tend to be present regardless of the situation and even hold us accountable.  They search with us, cry with us, and laugh with us.  These friends emulate our relationship and walk with Christ. Christ has promised to walk with us through the valleys and across the highest peaks if we open our hearts and let his light into our lives.  The question is how do we let that light into our lives.  How do we build relationship with Christ.  The easiest way for us here on earth is to look at the relationships we have with friends.

The old testament shows us brief glimpses into the relationship with God.  Abraham walked closely with the Lord, yet we know Abraham was imperfect and made bad choices such as in Genesis 20 when he lied about Sarah being his wife.  “And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.”, Genesis 20:2  This was not only a violation of his trust in God but betrayal of the most important human friendship of a man and his wife.  Yet, the new testament remind us of God and Abraham’s relationship in James 2:23, “and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’–and he was called a friend of God.”  We are imperfect friends.  Yet, if God chooses to stand by us then we have to choose to forgive each other in friendship to build deeper relationships.  We don’t get to see how this affected Sarah and Abraham but obviously the struggle made their friendship stronger and Sarah forgave Abraham.

As I pray for our friends and their lives, and pray for my relationship with the Lord, I realize that maybe I am not praying for what I truly want.  I want friendship with the Lord not relationship.  If you look at the difference in the definition of the two, it becomes clear what I should be praying for when praying for my relationship or friendship with my Father.  Relationship is a connection by blood or marriage.  Friendship is an emotional action based on our choice of who we choose to interact with through trust and support.  As much as I want relationship with the Lord(and he has established that as he is our heavenly Father), I realize that what I truly want is his friendship.  This is the bond that I want with the Lord.  My prayers need to change to reflect the true desires that I have in my heart for the Lord.   The Lord reminds us in Psalm 37:4 to delight ourselves in him, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

A relationship that is more of a Friendship can stand the test of reflecting on one’s life.  A friend is able to redirect and call you out when you are in the wrong.  This may not always happen in a relationship.  Even when a tough conversation has to be had between friends, the words of Proverbs 27:9 rings true, “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, So a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.”  I give thanks to the Lord for the friends my husband and I have.

The Lord tells us in Psalm 25:14 that, “The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.”  Yes, we do fear our Lord, but building a friendship with God is not built on fear but knowing that Christ has washed us clean of judgement.  Our friendship must be built on Love with both the Lord and others.  “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.”, 1 Peter 4:8.

 

Closing Verse:  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:13

Challenge:  ” Good friends help you find important things when you have lost them…things like your smile, your hope and your courage.”  Are you praying for a deep friendship not just with your friends but with your Lord?

Quote from  Stayingaliveisnotenough