I am a 28-year-old introvert, who was pushed for years to be something I was not. This was to be – outgoing, loud, and energetic. Well, I sit here writing this blog post feeling completely inadequate to tell you ladies about how I have grown over the years from being pushed and prodded. The Lord brought an idea to mind through it all though – “But the Lord is bigger…” I love being alone, I love the quiet, I love sitting by myself, I love minding my own business, I love only having 2-3 best friends in my life. I find great comfort in being alone. – “But the Lord is bigger…” This idea goes greatly against my disdain for being pushed out of my comfort zone. I hate talking to new people, I hate answering the phone, I hate big crowds, and I HATE talking in large groups! Reading this list, you are probably thinking, how has the Lord grown this lady if she still hates all these things? You would be right to ask that question! I do still hate all these things; however, the Lord is bigger! I have learned that the Lord is bigger than my hate of these things and He is right beside me when I am doing the things that scare me most.
Ways the Lord has grown me:
Pushed to speak in groups: In college I was the kid that would do all the work for group projects if I did not have to present the project. To this day, that is still something I struggle with. I would rather do all the work and have someone else teach the lesson or give a presentation. It genuinely is not a factor of being lazy, but a deep fear of saying the wrong thing, and frankly just being awkward! But inevitably there were classes I had to do the presentation in and there are still times I have to do announcements. In those times when I am asked to speak in front of people in any form, I physically feel a lump in my throat form. I get a stress ulcer in my mouth, and I often allow myself to get worked up over speaking in groups for weeks and I try to trick myself into forgetting about it until the moment is here, but that never works! After the moment is done and the speaking is over, you know what? I don’t die, I don’t pass out, I don’t throw up. I may have sweaty hands, I may have looked like a crazy person waving my hands all-round, and I may have even cried afterwards. But in the end, I am okay, and I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone a little more each time. Even though I still do not get excited to speak in front of groups, I can say each time it does get a tiny bit easier, not much easier but there is still growth. We are not promised life altering changes over night, we are called to be faithful servants to be used how the Lord sees fit. It seems like the Lord likes to take me out of my comfort zone a lot. But no matter how awkward or nervous I get; I am glad that I have conquered a little bit of my fear each time. And that is all through the strength of God being bigger.
Married an Extrovert: Being an introvert married to an extrovert seems to be a common coupling I see over and over, and it is my relationship as well. It was not until a few years into our marriage that we learned what introverted and extroverted meant. just for clarity sake – an Introvert is someone who recharges with time alone. and an Extrovert is someone who is recharged when they are around people. (These are very basic summaries of these two personality traits, there are many more things that go into it, but you will have to research those.) When I would work 8 hours and then go volunteer in youth after working, I would just feel depleted. At the end of the night, I literally had nothing left to give because I had been “on” all day. This was confusing for us in the early years as to why I was exhausted. But we have come to learn more about ourselves and paying attention to what we need, and this can and does make a big difference. Now knowing more about myself, I can know my limits a bit better and live and minister within those limits. I still sometimes push myself to far pass those limits and I feel it when I do that. However, I think one of the biggest blessings in my life was for me and my husband to learn this about ourselves. I do still find myself at times hiding behind the fact that I am introvert, so I do not have to do stuff. This is one of the biggest lies Satan can tell me because it is just not true. Yes, there are days I do not want to do things, we all have those days and times. But we know that we can still show up in smaller ways then maybe other times and still be present. My husband always called me out on this, and it does make me mad, but it only makes me mad because I do not want to be caught in the fact that I am hiding in my introverted ways. But my husband is right in calling me out in my hiding, because in that moment I am being selfish. Now hear me out, because knowing limits is a good thing but knowing your limits and hiding out because you don’t want to do something are two very different things and I have done both several times. So always know whether you are respecting your limits or if you are hiding behind something to avoid a responsibility. One way I work on this is by asking God to reveal that to me and be willing to hear the answer! When I have had a long day, it is best for me to take a step back and let someone else take the lead because in that moment, I may not be where I need to be and that is helpful when you can know that about yourself. Knowing that I recharge when I am alone has also been helpful because more and more youth today have also realized this about themselves, and this is a struggle within youth ministry. Many people think because you are young, you should want to do everything and anything and that is just not the truth. So, I am so thankful that the Lord taught me this about myself because I have been able to come along side other youth girls and make them feel seen for who they are and not just forced into playing games and answering questions.
So, I am truly blessed to be married to an extrovert because it has taught me to see how people function differently. And it has helped me be able to step up and minister better to people. If you asked my husband, I like to think he would say the same about himself, that he now being married to an introvert as now learned some things and how to minister to people better than we did in our younger days of ministry and marriage. One of the biggest ways the Lord has grown me is in meeting my husband. My husband is loud, funny, lights up the room when he walks in, and he has never met a stranger. The Lord knew what He was doing when Jordan and I met, because he pushes me daily to be better and I do not always like it but I am always thankful for it. I guess it just goes to show that opposites often attract for the best. If it were not for the Lord bringing my husband into my life, I would not be able to do many of the things outside of my comfort zone that I do. This is because the Lord uses him daily in this manner and I am so thankful for that. Because it has helped us learn how to minister to each other in the best way and to others.
Called into Ministry: I work with youth girls, and I love being a part of their lives and hearing their successes and their failures. I had great women in my life when I was in youth group, and I am so glad I get to give back to that for young ladies. However, I have not always felt that way! When I was younger, I thought to be in ministry you had to be fun, loud, and exciting all the time and that was not me! When I was 16 years old, I accepted the calling on my life for full time ministry and I was nervous. This calling took me to Seminary where I met my husband and then that moved us both into youth ministry in different capacities. Through the years the Lord has put me in situations that were largely out of my comfort zone and while I hated it in that moment, looking back I am so thankful for those times of growth. The Lord has put me in situations where I had to speak in groups, overseeing teams on mission trips, and having to simply lead from a vocal point as been a large area the Lord has pushed me to grow in. These are all things I do almost on a weekly basis, this does not mean I am good at these things now. The Lord is continuing to grow me in my teaching, speaking in groups, and leading. I am an observer by nature, and I like to sit and listen. As a result, these weekly responsibilities are a weekly reminder that God is bigger than my failures in these areas. God is bigger than my fear of failure in these areas, and God will use a willing heart. So be open to the idea of failure and know that when God is using you, He does not see it as failure. Let us continue to grow in our weak areas and know that He will give us the strength to push forward and do uncomfortable things.
After all of that, I would say there are three big things I have learned and am still putting into practice every day to be better and grow into a servant of Christ:
- Say yes to hard and uncomfortable things. You will be so surprised how you are grown from doing things outside of your comfort zone.
- Allow people to speak into your life. There are people in your life that love you and see things that you do not always see. let them speak truth to you and accept it when it is unwanted and try to grow from it.
- Know that what God has called you to, He will equip you to do. This may not be how you see fit to be equipped but it is not about what you think should happen. It is about how we can serve Christ through our lives, and this means being open to be used for things we won’t like. But we will learn, and we will grow from these experiences, and you never know how that will allow you to be the person that speaks truth into someone else’s life.