I am an introvert. What does that mean? Introverts are people who gain their energy and motivation from activities that they perform by themselves and then they spend that energy publicly. An introvert is not necessarily shy; she could be socially backward, but then again she could be very skilled in public performance. So an extrovert is the opposite. Extroverts gain their energy from activities they do publicly and then spend that energy by themselves. So introverts can be worn out by too much public activity and extroverts can be driven almost crazy when they are cut off from human interaction. An extrovert might be someone who processes his thoughts in conversation; he sometimes doesn’t know what he thinks until he hears himself saying it.
I don’t really want to go deeply into this theory; this is just a little background for something I found on my Facebook news-feed. Douglas Groothius posted this simple post:
Introvert survival kit
1. Lock them out.
2. Shut them down.
4. Go out into the world.
5. Repeat 1-4.
This caught my attention because what I’m doing now is not working (see my post, “This Is the Way Life Is”). I have been caught the last few days, when asked, trying to explain complicated, confusing and easily misunderstood feelings. So rather than doing this unsatisfying routine, I should withdraw until I’m recharged, and then re-emerge with a positive attitude and project. I liked the “survival kit” better when I thought that number 2 was about shutting people down; that’s from my unregenerate “Dirty Harry” side. But I suppose I must admit that a comment that attributed number 2 to shutting down iPhones, iPads and other electronic devices, is correct.
I saw my surgeon yesterday and I still have at least two weeks of being non-weight-bearing before me. Something striking is going on with Jack the Bible Study Dog (BSD); he is losing his hair only on the top of his head. It’s making him look like some other animal, maybe a bat. The BSD is completely unconcerned about the way he looks. He does not have self-image issues. But when I am shocked by the sight of Jack, he either seems to be saying, “What? What?!”, or he looks at me with a hint of challenge or even aggression, “Hey! What are you looking at? Are you looking at me?”
I am also reminded of the OT story of Elijah winning a great victory for Yahweh, with fire falling from the sky and consuming Elijah’s water-soaked offering and altar (including the rocks!), and then slaughtering 400 idolatrous prophets of Baal. A victory! You can read the exciting story in 1 Kings 18. But when King Ahab’s wife Jezebel sends word that Elijah is dead meat, he runs for his life. Collapsing in the wilderness, Elijah asked God to let him die (1 Kings 19:4). Preachers often know this as the Monday morning blues. After an adrenaline-fueled Sunday, maybe with a sense of accomplishment or of discouraging results, on Monday morning, the adrenaline drops off and the preacher is depressed. If the preacher is an introvert (and most of them are) she has spent herself with people, and now must withdraw to recharge.
So Elijah went from courage in the face of huge challenges to fear and suicidal thoughts. God allows Elijah to sleep and then an angel wakes him twice and gives him food to eat (1 Kings 19:5-7). God, the greatest therapist, knows that sometimes we just need to have plenty of sleep and a meal. But God also met with Elijah and dealt with Elijah’s self-pity by giving Elijah a wider perspective, an encounter with the presence of God and new tasks to perform (1 Kings 19:9-18). Sleep, food and meaningful activity are often what we need when we are depressed or overwhelmed. We also might need to turn off the internal self-pity tape.
But to recharge our spiritual batteries and once again connect to the abundant life that we have through Jesus Christ, nothing is like an encounter with God.
This post is powered by The Vigilantes of Love albums, “Audible Sigh” (2007) and “Slow Dark Train” (1997).