Hi. I'm Kaycee. I'm an Introverted Christian.
All righty. For those that know me in real life are probably shocked by this absolutely absurd confession. And I can hear the rumbles now....
"But you were a cheerleader! You talk to everybody! You have a lot of friends! You went to "that" Christian college. You were super involved in your youth group growing up..."
Those statements are all true to some degree or another. But that doesn't change that fact that I am indeed an introvert. I like being in a quiet atmosphere where I can hear my thoughts. I don't crave going to parties or hanging out with friends every Friday night. I like the comforts of my house. I get extremely nervous when I have to talk on the phone to someone I don't know or someone I'm uncomfortable with. I also get nervous and rehearse what I'm going to say when I'm meeting someone for the first time in a new situation. It's uncharacteristic of me to go up to someone out of the blue to introduce myself, and if I do, it's usually because someone told me to.
"Okayyyy, why are you writing this?"
Because I want to tell you that it's okay to be an introverted Christian and people need to understand this. I never realized how much this influenced me in the last few years and I want to share a little bit of my testimony.
Growing up, I was actually pretty shy, but I knew I would never get any friends that way. At a young age, and probably from reading all those books, I learned how to make friends. Besides, as a kid, it was easy. "Hi, Anna, I like your braids. They're pretty. Want to play with me?" Easy peasy. We'd skip off to the swings and have a jolly old time. However, as I got older, especially when I moved and switched schools around junior high, making friends made me anxious. I didn't like to draw attention to myself and at my new school, I was afraid of being disliked, so I hung back. But, I was super lonely and prayed that God would send me a friend in the 7th grade. He answered that prayer when a tall girl walked into homeroom on the first day of class. Because I had prayed, I knew I had to go up to her and say hi. I knew how horrible it was to be the lonely new kid and I wanted to at least take the chance on a possible new friendship. That friendship gave me the boost of confidence I needed to create my group of sister-friends, to whom most of them I am still close with, even fifteen years later.
However, things were different at church. People didn't see my introversion. I don't know if it's because whenever I was with a group of adults or older teenagers, I would slip away and make myself the babysitter of the little kids. I just didn't know how to relate to a lot of my church people, so I would just befriend all the little kids and play with them. I loved all those kids and they all loved me back. The adults all seemed to look at me as the poster child and therefore asked, no, told me to do things that felt way out of my comfort zone. "Hey. There's a new kid. Invite them to youth group. Hey. Go talk to that girl. Go sit with them." As an obedient kid, I would, but I would get major anxiety over it. And it wasn't because I hated people. For whatever reason, I would just get extremely nervous introducing myself to someone new, whether it was fear of rejection or fear of looking dumb and not knowing how to have a good conversation. Sure, it may have all been in my head, but it was a real thing for me.
It didn't help that my peers picked up on this and comments were often made about me and how "good" I was. And it didn't matter what it was, whether it was being the "good" one to sit with that visitor or being the "good" one who memorized the Bible verses. It didn't help receiving awards at youth group, because everyone would come up to me and say, "oh, we knew YOU were gonna get it." Honestly, I secretly dreaded youth group awards banquets because I just had this feeling my name would be called for some kind of award. To be honest, it was frustrating. I hated the attention brought upon myself. And it was a constant inner battle I would fight every time some church adult would tell me to go do something out of my comfort zone.
This didn't change in adulthood. Well-meaning people still put the pressure on me and when I got married, they started putting the pressure on my husband. It didn't help the fact that he was a PK (Preacher's Kid), so people automatically assumed he was also one of those front-of-the-lines-at-church kinds of guy. However, he is also an introvert. Things became worse when we started getting guilt trips for not doing what was expected of us, like talking to a new couple, or not "being involved," or not going to outreach and visitation. I know they all meant well, but honestly, it was draining to our spirit. Finally, we were so drained and churched out by that point that we no longer had the right hearts to be at church. And to be honest, that's part of the reason why we left that church and took a "gap year" and visited other churches in our area.
Through the years, I kept thinking that maybe there was something wrong with me. "Maybe I'm not as spiritual as I should be because I don't want to do all the activities and talk to all the people. Maybe I just need to try harder." I had serious doubt about what it meant to be a Christian. I didn't doubt my salvation, but I started to question "what is true Christianity"? Does it mean always being at the front lines and being the "face" or "poster child"? It also made me a little bitter at the fact that it seemed that these adults were always pushing ME. And not that other girl or that other guy to be at the front lines. I really started to develop a heart issue during this time.
In the gap year of church hopping and listening to other pastors and evangelists, the lightbulb went off. There was nothing wrong with me. It was just that God created me as an introvert and that's why I would get anxious when people would force church involvement and outreach. And I realized that it's okay! God didn't make us all to be shouting His praises from the rooftops all the time. God made some of us to have a more quiet spirit. God made some of us prayer warriors. God gave some of us the gift of teaching and speaking to others. God made some of us "behind-the-scenes blessers." God made others of us "up-at-the frontline blessers." And all ways of church involvement, outreach, and worship, as long as it's done with pure intentions and hearts, bring praise to the Lord.
The perfect example of an introverted Christian is my mother. My mom is self-admittedly not a speaker. She's not one to go to the front of an audience and give a giant speech or anything. In fact growing up, I don't remember her going to visitation type of things. And, I really don't remember her being the first one to go up to some stranger and befriend them at church. My mom is what I call a "behind-the-scenes blesser." She has cleaned the church every month for as long as I could remember. She is a faithful attendee and attends any church functions, baby showers, bridal showers, etc. She has watched babies in the nursery for as long as I can remember. She's one to pray and read her Bible faithfully. She stays behind the scenes and draws no attention to herself. And she is no less a Christian than the ones who go out on visitation or the ones who teach Sunday School, or the ones who are up at the front lines of the church.
Being an introverted Christian doesn't make one any less of a Christian. We share the gospel in different ways and sometimes they are the best ways we know how. It's not that we don't want to reach out to others either. It's that we reach out to others in different ways. On the flip side, for my Christian introverted friends, this doesn't give us an excuse to immediately hide from a visitor or completely isolate ourselves from our other brothers and sisters in Christ. We all have different spiritual gifts and as long as we use them to the fullest, I think God will bless us regardless our intro- or extro- version.
This may be a hard concept for extroverted Christians to grasp. But please understand that pushing us introverted Christians on to the front lines isn't right. Remember that we all have different gifts and that we want to use our gifts to the glory of God. Help us and encourage those gifts instead of trying to cultivate something that is just not in us. We are reminded of this in Romans 12 regarding the many different members and the differing gifts that we have.
Romans 12: 4-8 states: For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
Isn't that awesome how we can all be so different yet make a difference for the Lord? Let's start recognizing each other's different personalities and gifts and encourage those instead of what we think they should be doing for God.
Has anyone else experienced this struggle of trying to fit into a mold that you just were not made for? How did you overcome that? What spiritual gifts do you possess or what ministries are you a part of at church? I'd love to hear about your testimonies in the comments!