So frequently, I do not feel like engaging with others. My preference is to acknowledge their presence and settle into my cozy, quiet happy place; checked out from any reality accessible to others. In those moments, I justify my actions by calling myself an introvert or loner and rationalize that is just who I am; ignoring what the Keeper may be calling me to do. I say things internally such as “I am tired and need to be alone to rejuvenate and regain some energy”. Meanwhile, some soul in my presence is clamoring for the precise attention that God has placed me here to provide in that specific moment. Rick Warren tells us “Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. It is not enough to just say relationships are important; we must prove it by investing time in them”.
So…, the experience begs the questions: Where am I turning to receive my nourishment? Nine episodes of law and order? 1 kg of cherries (as if excess of a healthy choice is really that good for me)? Or maybe it’s yoga – just me and my mat? In and of themselves, none of my vices are bad. The problem arrives when they are taken to excess and fail to include, let alone make first, the one who made any of them possible. The reality is that regardless of how yogurt eating, granola crunching, Birkenstock wearing I am, I was built for a relationship with God and community with his people, not solitude. Matthew West in My Own Little World tells us:
“What if there’s a bigger picture
What if I’m missing out
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world
Start breaking my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors
Put Your light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about me”
It is a truth that we all have energy centers and pressure points that each has to be replenished and relieved. Taking time off, getting rest, and taking a vacation are necessary and expected. But – spending time talking to God (praying), listening to him (reading his word), and sharing the wisdom, guidance and inspiration gained by being led by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis, is a requirement for those of us who have devoted our lives to Him. My challenge to you is to start where to are. If you are not reading, praying, and sharing daily, begin now. Try reading the scriptures for five minutes in the morning; take a five minute “bio break” (or any other place where you can find a quiet, unoccupied space) to pray and give thanks in the afternoon; and close out your day with an act of kindness (let a car in front of you in tight traffic, go out of your way to smile at someone, pay a sincere compliment, or send an uplifting text to someone). If you are already there, there is always room to take your “game” to the next level. Maybe you have a one hour period you can have a quiet time. Great! Do it consistently and with resolve; slow the pace of your walk to ensure you notice, smile at, and acknowledge those around you – and share your faith while you are at it; pray for that disconnected sister, look up a scripture that speaks to what she is going through and email it to her. We all have space to be blessings to each other even in the midst of taking care of our individual needs.
It is factual that life comes at us fast and is full of competing demands; that we have to take care of ourselves if we are going to sustainably take care of others; and that stillness and quiet spaces are highly illusive. But it is equally true that Our Father who calls for his will to be done, gives us each day and our daily bread. That same Father yearns for us to seek Him first, meditate upon his word, and to love one another.
As I continue through this day in all of my introversion, I am reminded of the following:
1. Shells are for turtles and caves are for bats
2. Give the first 10% of my all to Him and He will restore me and cause me to thrive in the other 90%
3. By giving, I receive – the cornucopia of His gifts to be used for His glory, and
4. To love one another is the commandment that is second only to loving God with all your heart, mind, and soul.
“For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.” Psalm 33:4-5 NIV