Even Extroverts Need Community

51
Even Extroverts Need Community

[ad_1]

As an adult, I crave alone time. The funny thing is, I didn’t really think that alone time was something I would struggle to find, until one day, I woke up, a married woman with two kids and three dogs, and realized that I am never ever alone. While some people are afraid to be alone, I’m actually more afraid of the thought of never getting to be alone again. 

Months often go by when I don’t hang out with friends. It’s not really a planned or intentional thing; I just really enjoy my alone time and protect it a lot. 

If you’re an introvert, I probably don’t even need to explain myself. You get it. There’s definitely a tug between spending quality time with the people you love and finding enough solitude that you are fully present when you are with them.

Over the years, I’ve learned to carefully navigate the boundaries of the soul care I need by making sure I get adequate alone time, giving just enough of myself so my family and friends don’t feel neglected. The one area that I’ve struggled to progress in is that of community. I’ve always had a take-it-or-leave-it mentality when it comes to anything that appears like community; that is until recently, when I had my first real, life-giving community experience.

Even Introverts Need Community

Even introverts need community, and let me tell you why. God made us for community. He tells us to gather with other believers to help and serve each other and to encourage each other. God created Eve so that Adam wouldn’t be alone. Jesus had His disciples. All throughout the Bible, we read story upon story of people with other people. 

Think about it—if God didn’t intend for us to be in community with others, there would be no need to bring us together as one body (the Church), and all the passages in the New Testament that tell us how to treat others would be pointless. However, community is important to God, and, as an introvert, I must continually remind myself of all the reasons why I need community. 

Find a Community That’s Life-Giving

If you’re an introvert, you might disagree that community is necessary. So let me rephrase it—introverts need the right community, one that is life-giving, not life-sucking. Just one year ago, I didn’t feel such a strong need for community, but last December, I traveled across the country to attend a retreat with over 100 other like-minded women. Not only am I an introvert, but I have always struggled to fit in with other women. So you can imagine the anxiety I felt as I walked into the room on the first day. I even woke up early that morning to mentally prepare myself. 

However, during this two-day retreat, I felt a bond and comfort that I had never felt before with such a large group of women. For the first time in my life, I was able to just be myself and felt comfortable talking to strangers. Ever since then, I have craved more of this kind of experience. Until you have experienced the kind of community that feeds your soul, you can’t understand what it’s like to be part of a community where even the most introverted person can thrive. 

If You Can’t Find Your Community, Cultivate One

After this experience, I found myself looking for a community that could replicate what I felt in those two days. In the days after the retreat, I realized that a community like that is rare and might be nearly impossible to find. I came to the conclusion that I would need to cultivate a community on my own. I would need to find like-minded people to do life with, who are rooted and grounded in love, who will sharpen each other, and who are committed to seeing each other thrive and grow in their faith and spiritual gifts.

Based on my experience in a life-giving community, I determined the qualities that my perfectly cultivated community should possess:

God’s Presence Should Be Felt

The best example of the feeling of God’s presence is a Sunday morning worship service. The feeling in a room full of people whose hearts are tuned into God is electric. 

When you are fully engaged in a community of like-minded people, God’s presence is fully known, even when the worship music isn’t playing. A room full of Kingdom-minded people is a force to be reckoned with. There is absolutely nothing that can keep us from achieving our goals together in unity when we have God by our side. 

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20 (ESV)

Each Person Can Fulfill Their Calling

The great thing about a community is that each member possesses unique skills and talents that benefit everyone else. Just like in a town where many people have different but necessary occupations (doctor, plumber, carpenter, teacher, etc.), a church has many different but necessary parts as well. 

A life-giving community equips and empowers each individual to utilize their spiritual gifts. Each person should have the opportunity to contribute according to what God has called them to do. No one should ever feel left out or useless.

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5 (ESV)

Service Should Be Vital

Recently, my church put on a huge community service event where we took on multiple projects in the city. I was on the high school campus cleanup crew. It’s amazing how quickly 20 people can repaint the exterior walls of a classroom building when each one of us jumps in and takes on a specific task. 

The desire for our church to serve our hometown community allowed us to be the hands and feet of Jesus and to show the students and teachers of that school what the love of Jesus is. 

A life-giving community not only encourages and promotes service but actively engages in it as a whole. When we serve together, we get to experience the overflowing abundance of God’s love and see its full effect on those around us.

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (ESV)

Solitude Has Its Time and Place

While community is necessary to grow in our faith and to keep God’s commandments, take heart, my introverted friends! There is still a time and place to feed our solitude-loving souls. 

Even though Jesus is known for His way with people—how He loved them, showed them compassion, and ministered to them—the Bible also emphasizes His need to be alone. 

He spent most of His waking hours healing the sick, preaching, baptizing, and dining with sinners. The thought of this exhausts me. No wonder, after a long day, He could be found up in the mountains alone.

“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” Matthew 14:23 (ESV)

Not only did He find solitude at the end of a long day, but He would also wake up early for quiet time. This is another great practice that I can rarely function without. If I miss my early morning quiet time, I feel ill-equipped for the day. 

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Mark 1:35 (ESV)

Starting and ending each day in quiet, away from others, and in prayer provides us with the energy and refreshment needed to continue to engage in community. 

Pro Tip for When You Can’t Get Away

If you feel overwhelmed and need to be alone but cannot get away, learn how to retreat inside of yourself by way of the Holy Spirit. If you can learn this one simple “trick,” you can find solitude in the loudest and most crowded places. Seek solace in God and He will give you the inner peace that you need. 

“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah.” Psalm 32:7 (ESV)

Sometimes, if the tension is high, and I really need to be alone, I can become irritable and easily agitated. The last thing that I want to do is act in a manner that is less than pleasant. Learning how to retreat into a safe, quiet place within my soul keeps me out of trouble. I have learned to take deep breaths, pray silently to God to help me be patient, and be silent so I don’t say something that I’ll later regret.

Be encouraged, my friend. Being introverted isn’t a curse. If anything, I see it as a blessing. I find just as much joy in being alone as I do in being part of a life-giving, Kingdom-minded community. I encourage you to give it a try and see how even introverts can thrive in the right kind of community.

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/LeoPatrizi

Jennifer Jabbour resides in the scenic San Diego countryside with her husband, adult son, and teen daughter, and their hilarious English Bulldog. Jennifer has a B.A. in Integrated Business Communications, and is a Go + Tell Gals licensed life coach. Jennifer hopes to use her calling of writing, coaching, and speaking to equip and empower women to clarify their vision and to boldly step forward in response to God’s calling on their life, as well as educate and encourage others to experience the abundance of God’s goodness when they seek Him first in all that they do. Jennifer is also a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a photographer, and an avid outdoors-woman. She loves camping, hiking, running, and playing the piano in her free time.

You can keep up with Jennifer on her website https://www.jenniferjabbour.com.



[ad_2]

www.ibelieve.com