I am often amused by the clever quips about introverts my friends post to my Facebook wall. They let me know my friends see these little chunks of my personhood, and are making an effort to better understand me. For that I am grateful.
There was a time in my life when I lived in a place of constant self-criticism. This is the two-edged sword of introversion – we tend to be more self-aware and are always seeking to improve some aspect of ourselves or our lives; but we also spend too much effort dwelling on the parts of us that need work. We too often listen to the lies of the enemy about how we’re not good enough and don’t measure up. Because of this, I used to believe there was something wrong with me, and that I needed to change to better fit in and please people. Sadly, it took over two decades for me to grasp the truth that I was made the way I am for a reason – God’s reason – and He declared that it was good.
One way I came to unapologetic terms with this was when I studied the concept of Sabbath rest. As an introvert, I am pretty firm with my boundaries. Mostly, that is for the safety of others. I know what happens to my personality when I’m overtaxed – especially socially. My dark side rises to the surface, and I become the Queen of Snark. I hate to admit it, but I’ve planned more than one murder and/or mysterious disappearance – some of them in great, painstaking detail. Thankfully in those times, I’ve been able to hear the quiet voice of my Savior calling me to take the high road; and also calling me to Sabbath alone-time with Him. Jesus got alone with His Father regularly, and not only did it re-energize Him for ministry, it deepened His intimate connection with God.
The greatest realization in this study of Sabbath rest was to discover that it is not a suggestion. God commands us to rest – to recreate – to sit still – and to watch and remember that He’s got this. The universe and everything in it belongs to Him, and He doesn’t need me to stick my nose into it to help with the planning. Just for one day, be quiet; read a book; indulge in a hobby; take joy in your family; have a cup of hot chocolate in your favorite chair; chat with me. God reveals stuff to me when I sit with my mouth closed and my mind focused on Him – and absolutely nothing else. The enemy seeks to rob me of this intimacy, of this time of revelation, and anything the enemy spends so much time trying to get me to avoid must be important to God, and powerful for my growth and relationship with Him.
To be perfectly honest, Sabbath rest isn’t such a stretch for the introvert. I tend to build alone time around every social activity – without even thinking about it. The harder part is allowing myself to embrace the nothingness of it without guilt – to make it a priority when others can’t understand why I don’t wish to pack my Sabbath day with back-to-back activities. In fact, I guard my calendar against all outside commitments on my Sabbath. It can be hard when people don’t feel my excuse is good enough to warrant saying no to them. I then go back to another lesson I learned in this study: each time I say yes to something, I’m saying no to something else. Perhaps that something else is more important. And for that reason, I attempt to set aside the noise and distraction of daily life on a regular basis – without apology. Get a hold of this truth. I know it might be a little harder for my non-introverted friends than it is for me, but it’s not only vital – it’s filled with hidden blessing. And it’s equally important to recognize in each other our freedom to be who we are as sisters of the King and to respect our uniqueness within His image.
But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work…For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it. (Exodus 20.10-11)
Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, so that they might know that I the Lord sanctify them. (Ezekiel 20.12)