Tea ~ Caramel Apple Rooibos
Have you ever thought about whether you are an introvert or an extrovert? Maybe you have even taken a test that tells you which you lean towards as well as other personality characteristics (I am an ISFJ, if you are curious, which are you??). Well, I am here to tell you that mine has changed in the last 5 years. In fact, Greg & I have pretty much swapped our introversion/extroversion, if you can believe it. Or, perhaps I have had a misunderstanding of what that even means or says about me.
I was once described as a “flaming extrovert” by our IV Regional Director, Paul; the very same man that hosted the ISU – Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology party at his house that I would meet my future husband at nearly 9 years ago to the day. Oh…now I’ve got you asking, “What happened?!” Ok, I’ll tell you.
Taken from our wedding story scrapbook:
On the evening of November 4, 2003, Greg was invited to attend an Intervasity Christian Fellowship party at the home of Paul Bertsch for students from both Rose-Hulman and Indiana State. There would be food, fun, fellowship, and of course…music. Greg was unaware of what would occur that night, and in trust, he didn’t even want to go! However, his friend, Drew Bowman, kept insisting that he go to the party to meet some people and be social. There were plenty of video games for the engineers to play, but eventually Greg took a nap.
Sarah also considered going to this party, but her parents were in town for her volleyball match that weekend and she didn’t want to abandon them to go out with her friends; but, her mother persisted that she just go and that her and her father would be fine without Sarah to entertain them. And so…at around 10pm, Sarah packed up her guitar and went in her ISU volleyball sweatpants and hoodie to Paul’s house…
When Sarah arrived at the Bertsch home, she was greeted by a number of ISU & Rose-Hulman IV members, many of whom we still keep in touch with today. Famished, Sarah went into the kitchen to see if there was any food left so late into the party, but she was sorely disappointed. However, there was a polite young man who walked in while she was searching…
He started up a conversation about something that Sarah does not recall due to her hungry state after a big volleyball match. Disinterested, she left Greg in the kitchen to look for food elsewhere. Ouch, what a way to start things off! But there was still hope!
Giving up on food, Sarah pulled out her lefty guitar to play “You Were Meant for Me” by Jewel (Sarah has always loved the female-led folk style). Greg was then walking out of the kitchen, intending to see if he could get in on a video game in the living room when it happened! “You play guitar?” said Greg. “Yeah, a bit,” replied Sarah. When Sarah was finished with her song, Greg picked up a guitar and played “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind, while Sarah sang along. Their common hobby had sparked a bit of interest in the pair…
Greg has always said, “God knew how you would catch my eye.”
God so perfectly intertwined our lives that day and I invited Greg to my volleyball game the next night (as I always invite people to events) and he actually found a ride to campus to attend! Pinnacle moment to support me in my endeavors. Well played, sir. As a reward, he got to meet my parents, extended family & friends (HA! HA!) who often attended my games! He handled it like a champ. Of course, we had only known each other a day and there was no hint of courting on the horizon, but still.
Maybe I am just more comfortable in my skin now than I was in college, but I thought I was an extrovert. And having a degree in Communication, I thought I understood what that meant, too. Being introverted or extroverted has nothing to do with whether you are socially awkward or enjoy being around people. But ask yourself “Do I become energized by being around people or by myself?” I really do believe I was an extrovert and was energized by people in college and really enjoyed being around groups of friends. And I’m pretty sure Greg thought he was an introvert…mostly because he is an engineer & people often associated that with being introverted. And maybe that was true. It’s hard to say how we were 9 years ago.
So why do we feel that we have swapped? I think I have noticed that Greg really looks forward to meeting up with our groups of friends and will almost always jump at the chance, even after spending all day talking with clients on the phone or hours in discussion in meetings. I have found for myself that I enjoy my time with friends and look forward to it, but I really look forward to going home at the end of the night. I need to recharge my batteries or I am useless and irritable. The more I analyze why I am this way, the more I believe it’s because I have had to develop a coping mechanism with our moving around and starting over. If I were still an extrovert when we moved to Minnesota for 6 months, a situation that the friends we made knew about, and perhaps unintentionally did not want to spend the time and effort to get to know us and share their hearts only for us to move again (& I totally understand that!), I think I would have been miserable. I spent a lot of time alone the first 2 years of our marriage and I have come to appreciate it. And in the meantime, Greg has been in a sales role for a few years now and has been forced to exercise his social muscles. And he has excelled! He has had to learn to be energized by being around people, or he may never be energized (the same guy who would cry in the midst of a crowd as a young child).
There are a lot of misconceptions about introverts and here are the Top 5 Things an Extrovert Should Know About an Introvert, as described by Brian Kim:
1. If a person is introverted, it does NOT mean they are shy or anti-social.
2. Introverts tend to dislike small talk.
3. Introverts do like to socialize – only in a different manner and less frequently than extroverts.
4. Introverts need time alone to recharge.
5. Introverts are socially well adjusted.
Do any of these pop out to be true of you, to your surprise? I think #2 jumps out at me to be the most true. There is nothing I dislike more than (just) small talk. Skip the fluff and get to the real stuff. I love to ask tough questions and get to motives and influences. Have you ever had the typical “How are you?” conversation, but instead of “How are you?” you were asked “What’s up?” Greg & I have both caught ourselves replying to “What’s up?” with “Good,” anticipating the “How are you?” question. WHOOPS! How embarrassing. We laugh about it when it’s just us, but are called out when we realize we weren’t listening to the question. Maybe we should throw these small talk inquiries out the window and start with those tough questions. How would you respond if a friend jumped right in (assuming you had time to talk about it) and asked, “What has God been teaching you lately?” or “How can I be praying for you this week, or right now?” How many times have we also been asked to pray about something and we say yes, and then don’t? I certainly need to take a more proactive approach to encouraging my friends and family in this way and skipping the small talk and praying immediately (or really…without ceasing – 1 Thessalonians 5:17). Because really…who cares? And who is it benefitting? One word like, “Good,” does not even begin to describe how I am doing, whether I am doing great or struggling with something.
Let’s take something that might be uncomfortable at first, like digging at these heart issues and turn it into a normal exercise. Let’s develop new coping mechanisms and social muscles. And if you aren’t ok with that, let’s dig into why that might be. Are you afraid of being judged? God is our judge; “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” John 8:7, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1. Do you not know the person who has asked that tough question very well or have not developed trust with them? If someone took the time to earnestly ask what God has been teaching you or how they can pray for you, I’m pretty sure you’d want them in your corner supporting you, encouraging you and challenging you. I know that I desire deep conversations with people and want to know them just like our Father in heaven desires the same of us. Why do we waste our words and our breath with “How are you?” when we don’t really want to know or get into it? The next time I talk to you or ask you that question, I do want to know what’s on your heart. So hit me with it, unashamedly and unapologetically! I can’t tell you how much I have been encouraged by those who have been reading this blog and their feedback and I am honestly just throwing it all out there, opening myself up to ridicule and judgement in my weakness. “He said, “My grace is all you need. My power is made perfect in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Let us extend grace to one another so that we might also be made perfect in our weakness and the power of Christ can work through us. What other gods, religions or lifestyles do you know of that actually ENCOURAGE weakness? It’s ok to know that you are weak and that we can’t do it on our own. I continue to be in awe of my perfect, sinless Savior, Jesus, who sought out the weak, the poor, the oppressed, the liars, thieves and adulterers. It is baffling to me that a God so perfect wants to know a woman so weak. And intimately. He wants to skip the fluff and get to the inner workings of your heart. Will you let Him?
More on introverts vs. extroverts, I also found this video to be pretty funny: