I’m walking through an AMAZING book with the girls in my bible study/discipleship group. We’ve covered tons of topics and had to peel back some personal labels as we’ve turned each page. But, one thing that hit me this morning as I was reading was a statement.
The chapter is titled “How do I connect” and I thought we were going in a completely different direction. But Holley Gerth, the author of this AMAZING book, opened the chapter with this –
“Imagine we’re on a playground. One feisty little girl leads her peers in a spontaneous game. Another talks quietly with a friend in the sandbox. Both seem utterly content in the way they connect with others. Then we grow up and learn words like outgoing and shy, and the labels make us squirm.”
And, I just stopped right there. “The labels make us squirm.” I know I wrote about labels a few weeks ago. And, my discomfort with them, but my usual nature to place them on myself.
I spent a lot of time this summer reading about introverts. I’ve never been around introverts until a couple squeezed in my life in the last 2 years. Both of the ones that I’m trying to “learn” are AMAZING people. They are AMAZING bosses. They are AMAZING employees. They work hard, they are conscientious, they give every ounce of their energy in all that they do. But, they are different than me. And, that has perplexed me. Its exceptionally hard when I’ve had a hard day and want to hang out with them and they’ve had a hard day and want to retreat and sit alone. The “E” (big E) in me just doesn’t get it.
But, as I’ve read and keep absorbing (I could be a sponge commercial right now!) I’m learning, that’s just who they are. They connect and draw new energy in a different way than me.
Different isn’t bad, its just different. And, different is ok!
So, when I realized I was an extrovert and they were an introvert, actually calling it what it was made us uncomfortable. Suddenly I felt like I had to “know” them by reading “about” them. For me, it was a big step of self-discovery. As a grown up and trying to connect to new people, I want to be cognizant of the people in my life. Understanding them is part of extending the grace needed to make our friendship successful. As a single grown-up, I’m discovering that’s part of what makes a successful relationship; knowing the other person, understanding where they come from and knowing that “retreat” and “energy” are two words we may have to mutually define. The standard girl mind thinks retreating=mad, but retreating can sometimes equal fullness or joy.
As Holley ended the first section, she threw out these thoughts.
“What if God made us that way? What if He wired our social tendencies just like He did our strengths and skills? Perhaps the way you connect with those around you is just as needed as the other gifts in your life. Maybe its even at the heart of what makes you amazing.”
You know, I may not get someone who doesn’t want to cram every moment of every day with social interaction. I mean seriously why would you choose to sit at home alone instead of eating out with as many friends as possible? But, the older I get the more personally aware I become and I’m realizing that having these grounded people in my life is a stabilizing force. They center me, ground me, and are the most amazing sounding boards for all the crazy! I realize there is something to alone time.
The other thing I’ve thought about in this process is the grace I need to give myself to be ok with how I’m wired. I think when I know something else exists that could be better, I want to become that. I’ve got to be ok with being the crazy Extrovert. I mean the last time I did a Myers-Briggs test, I test 98% - E. That’s who I am. I can’t change that. I have to realize to an introvert, being that extreme and “e” is overwhelming, but it’s also something they wish they had more of. Every part of my make-up, personality, chemistry cannot be balanced and frankly, I don’t want to just sit on the fence of anything (yes, that comes from how I’m wired too!). But, the grace I’ve got to give is that there is nothing wrong with me…its just how I am.
We used to have a joke growing up that its “just how God made me”. Yes, we overused it, but I think this is the perfect place. I can make myself better all day with articles, self-help books and life coaching from great mentors. I can try to overcome or way find my short comings and I can improve them, but they will never go away. They too, are part of how I’m wired.
So, the chapter, or section if you will, ended with a challenge about “sight”. Holley shared this point –
“When it comes to life, we all have vision that’s stronger in particular areas. Just as our eyes can be nearsighted or farsighted, we see more clearly in certain social situations. In this case, it doesn’t need to be correct – it simply needs to be recognized and maximized. When you do so, your way of seeing the world can become a strength.”
How about we let the labels be something that connects us instead of the thing that makes us different.