It’s true, I’m not a social butterfly. Nobody has ever accused me of being too open, too friendly, or too sociable. It’s not something I suspect will ever happen, nor do I plan to help it along, but all the same I am beginning to loosen up. Or, dare I say it, I’m beginning to step out.
What this means is that I’ve taken some time to examine myself. I’ve considered many of the areas in my life where I’ve fallen short of God’s standard for normal, everyday, Christian interaction. For years I’ve been wrapped up in my own desires and pursuits, concerned only with how people, places, and things affect me. What makes me happy, what makes me comfortable.
By my very nature I am an introvert. Long exposure to large groups of people, particularly the noisy sort, grates on my nerves and affects my energy level. Spending time with people actually sucks the very life from me! This is no exaggeration. I can’t explain it, but at least I can acknowledge it.
Where I’ve been wrong is in assuming that because I can’t handle socializing, and indeed, because it truly makes me weary, it’s perfectly acceptable to avoid altogether. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Well, I thought so.
And yet, there’s this troubling little issue of fellowship. Not to mention ministry. How can I effectively build up my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ if I don’t even talk to them? If I don’t know how talk to them? How can I share about the hope that I have within me if I never leave my room? These and many other legitimate questions have often floated through my mind, but found themselves pushed back into the farthest recesses of… well, I don’t know. Point is, I knew something wasn’t right.
Like most great revelations in my life, it didn’t happen overnight. Nor did it involve any great accomplishment on my part. Rather, it was the Holy Spirit working to convict and prompt me towards achieving a healthy, realistic balance between socialization and solitude. I believe the Holy Spirit was also responsible for prompting a good friend of mine to impart a similar message, albeit through Biblical means of blunt force trauma. If that phrase leaves you scratching your head, don’t sweat it.
Anyway, the gist of all this is that I’ve been making a conscious effort to leave my comfort zone behind and talk with people. Not just the usual small talk, although that’s fine, but genuine conversation. Granted I may not have a firm grasp on the concept just yet, but I’m working on it. Fellowship with brothers and sisters alike in Christ. That latter half is a tad bit more complicated, due to many of the mental games that plague young men and women of faith. And yet, I have hope.
At work, people have taken notice. Where once I was often asked why the long face, now it’s been said that, “Jon must have woken up on the right side of the bed today.” Though it’s still not quite natural, I’m beginning to smile a lot more. Perhaps too much? At least I floss these days.
The point is, by taking my focus off of myself and putting it where God desires, namely Himself, I’ve found the answers to many of those aforementioned questions. I’ve even found answers to questions I didn’t know existed. It seems so simple in retrospect, but I suppose that’s why hindsight is 20/20.
Clearly, I will not cease to be the person I’ve always been, but I do hope to become the person I should have been all along. So don’t be afraid to step out, don’t be afraid to encourage and build up your fellow brothers and sisters. God knows we need it.