Friday, August 28, 2009

The Turtle and Me

I, Megan Coe, am a turtle. I have the capacity to stretch my neck far enough to get my head out of my shell into the world. But one little discomfort or threat causes me to thrust my head right back into the safe, dark, familiar home of my little shell. I am an introvert. I thrive on alone time. This does not mean that I was designed to be alone. Why would God make introverts if He designed us all for relationships and community? I doesn’t seem fair in this social holiness theology. Is it just to stretch my neck a little longer, to drag me out of the comfort of my nice, warm, secure home, out of my stable, orderly, book-filled dorm room?

Some people thrive in social settings. Their energy is restored through interaction with others. They meet more people, and are more dateable. They can invest more in the lives of others. I wince at the thought of groups greater than three. I either shrink back in crowds, or I act like an awkward fool. My poor friends try to draw me out, and it is truly torturous for all of us. It is like pulling permanent teeth. I say no, and then we bargain, and then I say, “yes, but I will drive my own car,” or “yes, but I will only stay an hour,” or “yes, but I have to go to bed early.” That early bed time excuse is always a lie. I go back home and bury myself in a book, or open up my journal , or dive into some academic endeavor, or do my nails, or pluck my eyebrows….ANYTHING rather than being at a social gathering.
I don’t have great and profound things to say in this entry. I am just confused. If I was made to be relational, why is my inclination to be alone? I was this way as a child. My mother always jokingly said how independent I was as an 18-month-old. I would stay in my room for hours, happy as a little clam (ahahah, I just totally stumbled on that analogy, though it is incredibly appropriate). Does this just mean that life is going to be even harder for me, to pry my shell open and drag myself into the world, awkward and wary? Is it wrong that I find more delight in sitting and reading? I like long walks in the woods by myself. I like writing for hours without distractions. I like spending a day, reading an entire 600-page novel. Maybe this is pure selfishness. Jesus retreated from people to go pray, but He never failed to minister and spend time with people. Neither did He limit His party size to three people at a time. He was good with one-on-one or entertaining 5,000 over dinner.

Maybe I am jus t playing the “it’s not fair” card. But here it is: IT’S NOT FAIR. I want to be a peacock, not a turtle. But I am a turtle. I like my shell. If my shell breaks, I die. What is just my natural bent toward introversion, and what is my responsibility towards koinonia and fellowship? Is it just a matter of still daily dying to the flesh and stepping out into the crowds? I tend to think that there is something valid and perfectly ok about my inclination, but I feel a sense of caution as I seek to find the balance. I hear over and over again that “isolation” is a red flag, and I know that red flags are signs of necessary change. But when is solitude ok? I think I just want some black and white answers, and I know that they do not always exist. It is not formulaic. I just need some little nudges out into the world of community. In community there is support, love, accountability, and more Jesus. Jesus is there, ministering in solitude. I am pretty partial to that ministry. I just need to stretch out my neck and risk being known and experiencing Jesus’ ministry within relationships.

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