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Introverted, Exposed, and at Peace

Updated: Feb 2, 2018

I was called out for being an introvert in a room full of people. To the extroverts out there, the irony may have made you chuckle, so you’re welcome. For the introverts out there, I’ll give you a minute to cringe, hyperventilate as you imagine yourself in the situation, then recover. Are you back with me? Ok, moving on. After the initial shock from the unwanted attention wore off, I mentally celebrated! Why? Well, let me explain.

Just a little background on myself: I have always preferred isolation. I grew up in a small town out in the country and really only met up with friends when it came time to play baseball (or practice baseball, or watch baseball). I really enjoyed baseball (and a few other team sports). These were probably the only times I sought out social interaction, because when you play baseball by yourself, your life boils down to a Kenny Rogers song, and no one wants that. I enjoyed riding horses and mules through back pastures to the BBQ place my dad and granddad owned. I enjoyed reading books, working outside, splitting wood, and jumping on a trampoline (until my cousin and I fell through it…). Basically, I enjoyed doing anything that I could do by myself or with one other person at most.

Now a little background on the situation: My wife and I have joined a church plant in Stillwater, OK. She is the Children’s Ministry Coordinator Supreme or something like that… I’m not sure if the title has been officially decided on. I am leading the Set Up/Tear Down team, which is perfect! The team can operate without ever being seen! As long as we do what we are supposed to before the services and after, we may never cross anyone’s mind. These are the kinds of things I love to do. I want to be able to serve other people without them knowing it or even be aware that they were served at all. That probably sounds strange, but receiving someone’s gratitude in the form of a “thank you” is remarkably uncomfortable for me. It puts me in the center of attention, exposed, and vulnerable.

Now, going back to being called out (if you have to scroll and reread it, I apologize and maybe recommend working on your recall ability). Sitting in the living room of the pastor’s home, 30 people sat in a large ring to discuss the church plant and what the next six months were going to look like. I can’t remember exactly what resulted in me being singled out, but it had something to do with greeting new people that were visiting. We wanted to be a very welcoming church. Everyone needed to be friendly and welcoming; it didn’t matter if you were a people person or an introvert like me.

So, why was I silently celebrating? Because I am not called to be alone and reclusive! I am a believer in a radically transforming Gospel that calls me to love people and calls me to know people and be known by them. If it weren’t for the work of Jesus Christ in my life, I could easily spend my life in seclusion. I would only see people when I go out to eat, or play pick-up games of ultimate frisbee, basketball, or racquetball. I would rarely leave the house, because I can readily occupy all of my time building things, reading books, just being generally reclusive. BUT Jesus didn’t die so I could live a life of seclusion and selfish comfort. He died so that my selfishness could be forgiven and I could be redeemed! Every single time I’m made uncomfortable in public because I feel exposed or vulnerable, I can rejoice, because I’m doing something I am called to do. And do you realize the best part of this? An introvert transformed by Christ, called out for being an introvert in a public setting gives me an opportunity to explain why I rejoice in the situation. Uncomfortable is what I’m supposed to be. It means I’m being made to be more loving and outreaching like Jesus Christ, who died so that my selfish and sometimes uncaring nature could be redeemed into something beautiful. It’s not likely, but I’d like to think there are friends reading this that didn’t even realize how introverted I am. I would consider that to be a remarkable transformation from who I used to be, and who I still lean towards being. Much more could be said about this, and maybe I will say more in the future, but this is already longer than most posts that I take the time to read… So I’ll leave it at this: If you see me in public, awkwardly standing in a corner, as far from people as I can manage, because of the work of Jesus Christ I would love for you to come and talk with me. I should come meet you, but some days I can’t seem to make myself do it. If I seem uncomfortable, I am! And that’s a good thing.

Shane Garrett

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