{Just Like Me: Being Introverted in the Church}

dylan 2If I could have demanded anything

for my shy and wary child,
would I have begged God

make him less cautious?

Would I have wasted
a wish, a prayer, even a thought
on that part of my personality that I hate

and have come to
tolerate.

Make him less afraid.

Make him less

like me: petrified, wooden, shaken, sick to my stomach
terrified.

Though I hate it about myself,

could I possibly hate this

in

my son?

How is this conceivable?
My baby, my flesh, my skin and bones
always crawling away from people

just like me.

I have learned, when the extroverted-overjoyed-inner-glowing-pastor says almost gleefully to
turn to our neighbor, I don’t immediately
run. I have learned.

Still, the bathroom is a cool, echoing, quiet and comforting place just then;
and I can hear
my heart exploding inside me.  Blood pumping, rushing to all extremities.
The fear rushes about me, like pixies dancing, mocking,
Silencing me.

When extroverted-overjoyed-inner- glowing-pastor says:

this is love

I think
I may puke, not because I want to puke
mind you. (What kind of fool would want to throw up in church?)

But.
seriously

when will church life be easier for introverts?  And how to tell my kid,
that forcing him to attend Church events is virtuous?

It’s for your own good.

How? I’m thinking.
How? He’s asking.

This isn’t faith, I know. This isn’t my religion.

What’s an introverted mom to do?

Teach him to run?

The answer lies somewhere in between.  Even
with programs bent on making you
fit

your circle shaped heart into their

square pegged hole of a program.

Still, love wins
when you risk.  And for us introverts, some days that’s

just showing up.

DSC_0119

{reflecting on the past year and turning 46}

I have come far. I have run hard. I feel strong.

I am proud of my learning to harness perseverance and need. Twenty seven pounds ago, I hated myself and today I feel lithe and strong.  All this, accomplished with an iron will, though a little obsessively neurotic at times.  I know, I am strong. And this is good, this self-love, for one who loathed herself for most of her life.

But I know there is more — to know, to learn, more to my life.  I am always pressing life for more and this dissatisfaction, while frustrating at times,  is  also who I am.  I accept it.  

I have been running, strong.  But perhaps away from or around, not through Jesus and the community of believers I am a part of these days. Even as I join — leaning into community, giving myself away, so that I see pieces and part of me all over the place.  In words and images, in relationships — all good things, still I have held something important back.

“I am not in love with the church” she said. And as I read this offering, words from a deeply thoughtful writer whom I read trembling with her conviction, every time.  Her words, like good writers do, carve into my heart.  I was undone by them, slayed.  Broken by her words, I had to acknowledge its truth.

In me.

For I have tried so hard to love, prayed for it even.  Known how right it is to love the bride of Christ, the church.

But I avoid her, even as I am the butt of pastors jokes about introverts on a Sunday morning. Oh how I hate the “greet perfect strangers” time of the church week.  Yes, I resent it, but really deep down this isn’t about being shy.  I don’t love the Bride of Christ.

I look down, avoid eye contact, trying not to see her.

I am shaken by my stone cold heart.

He said, love others as you love yourself. And these words fell on a heart that was running, afraid to love.

I’ve come far, run hard and strong toward God– I love Him and He fills me.  He gathers up all my fear, the anxious heart that grips me strong, that is not allowing change to come into me.

I am strong but I am weak.  He longs for me to step closer, sit longer, open up, be.  Allow the eucharist to transform me in the quiet of space that I

don’t fill, don’t control, where I don’t speak.

Let God transform.

“You’re running on your own strength,”  the Holy One whispered to me, over and over this week.  And I know that I am.  Admitting it is a small, sweet release of pressure that has built up as I got strong.  I was even frightened by my strength.

“Lay down ego and pride and the feelings of being not good enough.

Lay down your mind that swirls, a windstorm of thoughts that never stop, making you feel slightly crazy all the time. 

Lay down the hopes, the dreams, the plans.

Lay down control, learn from me. 

Lay down desire for powerful influence.

Lay down comparison that kills joy and everything good, that makes your mouth taste bitter.

Lay down fear that frequently cripples.

Lay down the need to be seen as smart.

Lay down,

kneel

acknowledge the ugliness inside you.”

Hear me: YOU ARE PERFECT.

Stop

running on your own strength.  

Let me be your refuge and strength.

Surrender to the Cross

ever and always being in a state of

becoming.”

And so, I am learning this.  I’ll admit the thought of letting go frightens me but I long to truly love God, myself and my neighbor, as we’re commanded, so much so that this becomes a sweet surrender.

And it is to be daily.