Being an introvert has its challenges.
I am a card-carrying introvert. My business cards carry the tagline: #Christian #Introvert #Writer. Being a Christian is the foundation of who am I. Being an introvert is how I am! And writing is what I do.
Growing up in a small Hoosier church, I was saved “early and often.” Every Sunday as a small boy in children’s church, we were asked if we wanted to accept Jesus into our hearts. Not fully understanding all that entailed but not wanting to take any chances, I said yes every week.
The church I grew up in was Pentecostal. While I loved my church and the people in it — most of whom were relatives — I always felt a little off, especially as I moved into my teens. Pentecostals tend to be rowdy folks, which is fine. But my leanings were more toward quiet worship.
As I grew and matured in my faith, coming to a clearer understanding of what a Christian is, I also began to be aware of how I was made. “Fearfully and wonderfully” was a good starting place, but I needed more information.
Everyone in my family — mom, dad, sis, and me — were all deeply involved in our church. Beginning in junior high, I was involved in our youth group, taught a younger-than-me boys Sunday school class, sang in the choir, and did other typical small church stuff.
I really loved being in my room reading a good book. Being alone and quiet was glorious. But, being in a group of people at church was great, too. Mostly. What caused me consternation was the exuberant and vocal worship. I have no problem with most Pentecostal or Charismatic worship. Substance is more important than style. Still, I wasn’t comfortable praying out loud or waving my arms in the air. More than once teen-me wondered, “What’s wrong with me?”
In her book, The Powerful Purpose of Introverts, adult Holly Gerth asked herself the same question! She explains how, when she enters her church, she feels “like a drowning woman, lost in a sea of sound.” To manage the experience, she wears ear plugs and sips tea that she brought “known for its calming qualities.” She writes, “Why does everyone else enjoy the loud music, feel eager to join a group and go on another retreat? Don’t I love God? Don’t I love his people?”
I know this feeling. She’s an introvert, just as I am.
Introverts are wired differently. We’re more sensitive to sounds, lights, scents, and all manner of external stimuli that others find rousing and energizing. We prefer solitude to crowds. We think deeply and slowly. For many of us, writing is our preferred form of communication.
Weekly, in this column, I’ll share my experience as a Christian introvert. We’ll explore the world of introverts, examine why we are different, discover ways to manage and thrive, and learn that it’s very okay to be how God has made us.
Stephen R. Clark is a writer who lives in Lansdale, PA with his wife, BethAnn, where they attend Immanuel Church. His website is www.StephenRayClark.com. He is a member of the Evangelical Press Association and managing editor of the Christian Freelance Writers Network blog (tinyurl.com/cfwriters). He is also a news writer for The Baptist Paper and contributor to the Englewood Review of Books. His writing has appeared in several publications. You can contact Stephen at [email protected]. The content of this column is copyright © by Stephen R. Clark.