Introversion & Christianity

I am quite the introvert. However, that does not mean that I’m shy. On the contrary, I’m actually rather outgoing and am fine meeting new people and carrying on casual conversations. What makes me an introvert is my need for alone time to rejuvenate and rebuild my energy levels. I cannot spend extended time around people without getting exhausted.
How do I reconcile this part of my personality with my being a Christian and the need to be in community with other Christians? This is an ongoing struggle for me and something that I have to balance on a regular basis. I find that getting together with others on a one-to-one basis is not as draining for me and allows me to experience fellowship and encouragement without becoming overly exhausted. Being in groups of people is much more draining for me. This makes it difficult for me to participate in a small group, for even a small group is usually several people. Church on Sunday mornings is do-able, but I’m useless the rest of the day, needing to go home and nap to rejuvenate after the social and worship experience in the morning with a large group of people. I need to plan my weekends that I don’t over-do socialization or I end up stressed out and get sick.
As a Christian, I think it’s important to be with other believers and encourage each other. I can’t live my life in isolation. Yet I also have to watch my health needs and not over-stress myself. It is a constant battle and struggle of balance for me.
How about you? If you are an introvert, how do you balance that with the need for spending time with others?

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Individualism – an American Idol

I’m currently reading American Idols: The Worship of the American Dream by Bob Hostetler. The different chapters cover different idols that we tend to cling to in our American culture. So far I’ve read about consumerism/materialism, naturalism, and individualism. Consumerism is a rather obvious idol just by looking around us and seeing how we are caught up in buying things that we don’t really need, trying to fit in or satisfy our inner cravings. For me, the individualism chapter struck home.

I am very much an introvert. An introvert gains energy from time alone, while being around people is more draining. So being part of a community, developing relationships, can be difficult for me as I often would prefer to spend that time alone. The attitude of “I don’t need anyone” can pop up in my life. But Scripture calls us to be part of a community with other believers.

Hebrews 10:24-25: Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together…” 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion…”

So this is a struggle for me. Balancing the time I need alone to be refreshed and re-energized with the time needed with other people to be challenged and edified. Our online social media society that we now live in makes this even more of a challenge as it is easy to just spend time online interacting with people and consider that “community”. But nothing takes the place of actually spending time with other people face-to-face, encouraging and challenging one another in our spiritual growth.