I used to be an introvert.
When my family walked into church and the pastor told us to “mingle,” dread crawled up my spine. At parties, I sat alone and pretended to be okay with remaining silent. Fear kept me from speaking the first words, and I watched the faces going by, hoping a friend would break away from their cliques to talk to me.
I used to be an introvert. In some ways, I still am. But I decided to throw aside that label and be something more.
The problem isn’t that we’re shy. The problem is that “introvert” is a label we plaster onto ourselves as an excuse. We hide from what God is calling us to do, arguing that we’re not natural at being outgoing and friendly like others are.
Dear friend, we might be afraid, but that doesn’t mean we can accept limitations, shrug our shoulders, and wish we were someone else. If a personality trait prevents us from reaching God’s ultimate calling for us, it has no place in our life.
And if we’re tired of living in that fear, why don’t we change?
I used to think that being reserved was a part of me I couldn’t resist. I hid by my mother and avoided eye contact, believing it was my natural disposition. But, for some reason, I couldn’t find any excuse for the way I lived in the Bible.
Within its pages, I discovered just the opposite. I learned that God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). I read that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Stories of Joshua, David, Esther, and other Bible heroes spoke of unconquerable courage in the face of danger.
And when Jesus ascended into heaven, he gave us one last calling– to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). But how could I share my faith when I was too afraid to walk up to a stranger and say “hi”? The problem is that being an introvert is often used as an excuse. It’s an excuse to live in fear and pride. We wonder what people will think of us, so we retreat into our shell and hide from the world.
Yes, we’re introverts. But we can’t run away when God is calling us to live a radical life of surrender to his will.
Doing Hard Things
I didn’t want to let labels define me anymore. So I pushed them aside and stepped out of my comfort zone.
At a party, I saw a girl sitting by herself. She had a friendly face, and soft hair fell to rest on her shoulders. I took a deep breath and walked over to her table. It turned out that Bethany was my age, and she had a passion for reading. We chatted and laughed together as I made a new friend.
And then I went to a wedding. A girl walked past me, her voice ringing with a beautiful, European accent. Again, I prayed for courage and walked up to the stranger. She shared about her home in Germany and how hard it was to be a Christian in the secular public schools she attended there. We opened our hearts, and another friendship bloomed.
Every time I took a deep breath and strove to love others by being friendly, I discovered the same thing. People are beautiful. They have stories and passions and dreams.
When we do hard things like talking to a stranger, we discover a treasure we would have otherwise missed. Every person has the potential to be a new best friend.
Trust me, walking across the room to meet a stranger wasn’t easy. It still isn’t. I’d rather hide in the corner instead of becoming vulnerable and open with someone I don’t know.
But we can’t live in fear. God has called us to live a life of boldness. We need to be loving others, sharing the Gospel, and reaching out as we offer his truth.
What would happen if all the Davids, Esthers, and other warriors of the faith closed themselves up because of fear? Where would the world be if we all hid in our comfort zones? If Jesus had hidden behind the label of “introvert,” would he have risked everything and died on the cross for our sins?
Yet friend, we can’t do this on our own. If we try, we’ll fail miserably. We’re too weak, too timid, too scared.
With God, All Things Are Possible
If perfect love casts out fear, we need to grab onto that love and never let go. 1 John 4:8 tells us where that love comes from: God is love.
Let’s not allow fear to control our actions and lives. Let’s live radically– love radically– as we seek to become more like Jesus.
“Introvert” is a label we need to tear off ourselves and trample in the dust. Let’s be bold and strong, living in his power. If we hide behind our limitations, we’ll miss the great adventures God has in store for us.
I’m cheering you on.