The Introvert’s Secret to Getting Comfortable with People

If I had my choice, I’d spend my time like this:

Comfy Dog knows how to get comfy

Comfy Puppy knows how to get comfy

Comfy Puppy not only knows how to get comfy, but is doing it introverted-style. A puppy after my own heart. But then I read passages like this and I start to wonder if being an introvert in a comfy bed is all there is to life.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4.)

The word “comfort” in that passage is translated from a Greek word close to the one used to describe the role of the Holy Spirit as our counselor in John 14:26. Our English word paraclete – meaning one who helps, advocates or comforts – is a transliteration from that Greek word too. The sense in both John 14:26 and 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 is of someone coming alongside another person to help them.

A Comfortable Translation

Knowing the root for 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 sometimes leads me to read the passage as:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all coming alongsidedness, who comes alongside us in all our troubles, so that we can come alongside those in any trouble with the coming alongsidedness we ourselves receive from God.”

So if you want to get comfortable, you have to get close. As an introvert, I’m not comfortable with that.

Or I should say I’m not comfortable with it until I actually do it. Then I find that it’s not so uncomfortable after all. I think that’s because it’s God working in me, the Holy Spirit himself in me working to bring comfort not only to me but to those who are around me.

I paraclete* others because God paracletes me.

What a comfort.

***

*The word “paraclete” is not a verb. Until now, because I just used it as one. So now it’s a verb.

***

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21 Responses to The Introvert’s Secret to Getting Comfortable with People

  1. Tim, I appreciated how you shared with my workshop participants at West Coast Christian Writers that this truth guides you as you comment on other writers’ blogs and facilitate discussion here. I think when we join in online conversations, keeping this in mind will help us to live out another important verse: “let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up…”
    You model that really well, so thanks.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks for inviting me to share my blogging habits with your students, Keri. That was a hoot!

      That verse from Ephesians 4 goes so well with the 2 Cor. 1 passage. Remembering that I am dealing with real people on line keeps me mindful of what the Bible says about how to treat people God has put in my life.

  2. Jeannie says:

    Also being an introvert, Tim, I totally relate to what you’ve said here. But you’re so right: I might not be comfortable with a particular act or conversation but when I enter into it, I can do it because of God’s help. I had that experience many, many times during and after Mom’s illness and death.

  3. Pastor Bob says:

    The true introvert recognizes the need to go out share, contribute, minister, work, socialize – all of this and more. The difference is what can be called “recharging,” spending time with God ALONE, Doing some alone things ALONE, spending time with Spouse and/or children and NO ONE else. The recharge cycles may last a few hours, may need to occur on an irregular basis, or only a few minutes may suffice. Yes, we are called to break out of our comfort zones to minister and serve. We are called to do what is needed for others.

    Blessings to you – a wordsmith I admire!

  4. Kathi says:

    As an introvert, I’m comfortable with one or two that I know well coming along side me. In fact, it’s why I value friendships so much. Stick me in a room with no one that I know and tell me that they’ve got my back and I’ll sit in a corner the rest of the night.

    • Tim says:

      Me too, Kathi. In fact, I might not even stay in the corner. You’ll see me walking out to the parking lot, keys in hand.

      • Kathi says:

        Have you read the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain? It’s an excellent book that explains a lot about how us introverts work. I found it to be quite liberating. As though someone understood me.

  5. Laura Droege says:

    As a fellow introvert, what is your view of church small groups? (Not informal groups that form naturally from friendships, but formal groups put together by church staff/administrators/etc.) I’ve been in numerous ones, and I’ve rarely felt comfortable even when I’m making a huge effort to be honest and open and encouraging to others.

    • Tim says:

      Not a fan, for the same reasons you mention, Laura.

    • Kathi says:

      Laura – I’m the same way. Even when I make an effort I never feel like I fully fit into the group. I usually try to get closer to one or two to make it easier.

      • Laura Droege says:

        Thank God. I thought there was something wrong with me! I usually get stuck with people who want to talk politics, all from one point of view (which I don’t share), or there’s some other hangup. The churches I’ve attended, though, are very big on small groups. Sigh.

      • Pastor Bob says:

        THAT is a very good way to make the group work. I have only a few close friends, yet my wife has — many! As a small group leader I had to focus on all, but did get closer to the one or two.
        Blessings!!

  6. As I get older I’m becoming more introverted. It’s okay, but I like to remember Proverbs that says, “he who isolates himself seeks his own way.” It helps remind me not to be selfish with my time. Also, I have a friend; we’ve been friends maybe five years now, maybe three– anyway, we used to work together, and she would often hug me. And sometimes specifically make it a point to come hug me when she needed a hug. It still kinda’ blows my mind. I”m not that way. I hug people hello and goodbye, but that is all. She made me get to a point where I would actually think about going and giving her a hug just to make her day better. She and my mom are a lot alike. I wish to be more iike them, and unequivocally I admire them.

  7. Anu Riley says:

    I’ve been an extrovert AND an introvert and it really annoys me that extroverts seemed to be more prized and valued in society, and introverts minimized and often seen in a more negative light. In our “church culture” we can dangerously start to make those same assumptions. Since I’ve been on both sides I’ve experienced the “dumbness” of how our minds think at times (myself included)

    So an extrovert MIGHT be more comfortable in going up to a stranger and start speaking to them, but only Christ can give him/her the words to say. Makes no difference how outgoing, personable or friendly you are—if you don’t have the Holy Spirit inside of you to lead and guide and walk beside–your “strong personality” is of no use to Him.

    “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6). Nowhere does it mention a better or more effective”personality type.” I was witnessed to by an introvert. Her words may have been few but her her warmth and love expressed her faith, and it spoke volumes to me.

    In our fast paced society we have no patience or willingness to get to know someone on their level, at their pace and in their comfort zone. Somehow we now try to “stuff” everyone into a “one size fits all” mold and that is just so discouraging. I have tried to get to know people based on season of life, neighborhood groups or other church ways (nothing wrong with them, btw) but they all failed for someone who is more withdrawn like myself. I just couldn’t “gel” with people on such superficial levels and in those large group settings.

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