Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why "Yes" Is As Important as "No" (The Introvert Version)


It's raining as I write, so naturally I have Nat King Cole crooning to the household and a batch of warm muffins on the back of the stove. With the uncharacteristically wet winter we're experiencing, I'm slowly getting better at giving home the warm and comfortable touches that grey skies demand. Or at least I hope I am. The girls seem a lot more resigned to this batch of rain, but I think I have friends who invite us out for impromptu park dates to thank for that. Besides the pleasure of friendly company, getting wiggles out is almost always a wise move.

Stuck solid in my introverted nature, I'm always tempted to do my own kind of wiggle when we have plans in place - the wiggle out of them. And all the talk lately of the importance of saying no, of chasing the slow life, of being wisely stingy with the time we have has only served as supreme excuses for why this wiggle is justified. I mean, I completely agree that we all need the reminder to slow our whirlwind lives and pay attention to things (and people) we might unknowingly "blow over," so to speak. But as I sit here with all the cozy feels and the rain tapping a grateful excuse for them, I have to laugh at myself and wholeheartedly admit that we introverts might require an additional reminder:

Say yes to whirlwind moments too.

An old college professor of mine once spelled out introversion as nothing more than a personality that draws strength from the quiet and extroversion as one that draws strength from people. Helpful definitions, right? I guarantee it goes much deeper than that, but since I still have breakfast dishes in the sink (it's almost dinner time) and two dirty diapers to handle I'll just skim the surface of thought with this:

When Elijah ran for his life to the quiet safety of the wilderness, God spoke. Not out of a whirlwind, not out of an earthquake, not out of fire, but in a "still small voice." And then, that still small voice of God sent Elijah right back into the whirlwinding, earthquaking, fiery thing called life with its dem hard work.

Now, thinking about that definition I mentioned earlier, I do wonder if maybe introversion is just the deeper desire for the still small voice? I don't know. But I DO know (because I'm reminded all the time) that even if that's true, we still need to say yes to stepping into this whirlwinding, earthquaking, fiery life to let God do His thing in tumbling the sharp edges of our faith.

Because, I'll just go ahead and say it, those calm and cozy no's aren't going to necessarily get 'er done.

I'm preaching to myself more than anything here (borrowing that phrase from Ruth at Gracelaced because it's so spot on), but when things come up where the inclination to wiggle out is sparked, I think we Jesus-loving, Bible-believing introverts need to recognize the opportunity to persevere. Perseverance, my friends, is that uncomfortable but necessary flint that rubs against our character to produce the spark of hope that doesn't disappoint.

Let me clarify: Play dates, getting out of the house, large functions, etc. . . . none of these are the end of the world, or even really the "trials and tribulations" we can anticipate here. But to a personality that "draws strength from the quiet," it's definitely friction. Good friction, productive friction, faith-refining friction, if we lay it in the hands of God to be so.

So by all means, let's please do recognize the importance of saying no and chasing the slower side of life, but also not diminish the working space of God in our lives through those yes's too.