Sage the Blog

Introverts and the Church

8.31.2016


I'm a complete introvert (shoutout to all my INFJs!). Living in a world that values extroverts, this can sometimes be a challenge. This is especially the case in the church. I don't mean my church specifically, but churches in general. 

The church encourages and values things like outreach, hospitality, and group gatherings, all of which can be exhausting for an introvert. I don't not like these things, but they take a lot of my energy, especially when compared to an extrovert. I have struggled with things like, why can't I be more missional? Or, why don't I want to go say hi and introduce myself to those new people that just walked through our front doors on Sunday? 

When I went to a Lutheran church I literally DREADED the part where you're supposed to shake everyone's hands and say "peace be with you." I'm getting anxious just telling you about it. Often, I would just go to the restroom to avoid it. Yep. This reaction wasn't because I didn't value things like outreach, hospitality, and community. It was because these things made me incredibly uncomfortable. I would have rather stayed after church for 6 hours and talked to each person individually about their hearts and struggles than have to do that for 5 minutes. 

Honestly, for the longest time, being an introvert kept me away from the church because I had this idea that all Christians must be extroverts and just LOVE these things that require so much effort from me. I didn't see a place for someone like me. 

Luckily, I have come to realize that God doesn't just value the extroverts in His church. However, that doesn't mean that you should use your introvertedness to avoid the things that God asks of you, like being in community and serving your church. There are ways to do the things He asks of us without doing them in an extroverted way. 

Sadly, I think the church misses the mark here. Often times when it asks its people to engage in certain tasks, they're often created with the extrovert in mind. They involve things like surface-level small talk with newcomers and big "girls nights" with a million people. These things aren't bad, but they're really hard for an introvert. I have also learned that when I don't do these things, people isolate me or think I'm "mean." Other times they just don't understand me. Sometimes churches even send the message that solitude is selfish. That one really gets me fired up. 

So, I was thinking, what are some of the ways that introverts like myself can find things in the church that might be less geared towards extroverts? Here's what came to mind:

+ Invest in a few people and cultivate meaningful relationships with them. You don't have to attend girls night, but you should find ways to be in fellowship with others. “Introverts treasure the close relationships they have stretched so much to make.”  ― Adam S. McHughIntroverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture

+ Ask your church if there is anything "behind the scenes" that they need help with. Maybe they need help with their website, sending e-mails, or some other administrative task. It's cool if kids class isn't your thing, but that's not an excuse to not serve at all. 

+ Remember that God's church needs introverts AND extroverts. One is not valued over the other. “Let God make you fully you. Rejoice in your God-given temperament and use it for God's purposes. This point cannot be emphasized enough. We must be authentic. If we try to be someone we are not, people will see it instantly.” ― Adam S. McHughIntroverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture

+ Put yourself out there. Even if something seems overwhelming for you, give it a shot. It might be geared towards extroverts, but you might still like it and God might still grow you through it. If the church has a need but you feel it doesn't suit your "introvertedness," I urge you to still fill that need. For example, small talk kills me but I LOVE leading our hospitality team at church and making connections with new people. I know almost everyone's name at our church, all thanks to putting myself out there AND I get to help people get connected easier than they might have otherwise. 

These are just a few thoughts. The point is, though, that there is a place for introverts in the church. 

I would also suggest checking out this book. I has been on my "to read" list for a while but I haven't gotten around to it. 

Whether you're an introvert or extrovert, I would love to hear your thoughts about your personality style and how that intersects with the church. 


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Grief Sucks

8.29.2016


Let's just be real for second: grief sucks. Since our miscarriage I have been trying to be gentle with myself. I've tried to label the stage of grief I'm in and blame it instead of myself or others. To give myself grace and to remind myself that my feelings are normal and valid.

Still, however, it's impossible not to feel lonely and crazy at certain points. Lonely when it feels like the world has moved on, expecting me to be doing better now that nearly a month has passed. Lonely when people stop asking how I'm doing. Crazy when I desperately want people to want to help me, but don't know how to ask them to help me and don't know what will even help me at all.  Crazy when at one moment I'm completely fine, laughing and having a great day, and just a few hours later I can't stop sobbing long enough to sleep. Yep, grief sucks.

For those not familiar with the stages of grief, here's the quick rundown:

Shock & Denial: Avoidance, numbness, etc.
Anger: Asking "why is this happening," blaming others, etc.
Bargaining: Especially with God. "Make this go away and I will do X" or "Make this stop and I will never do Y again."
Depression: "I'm too sad to do anything" or loss of energy, etc.
Acceptance: This doesn't mean liking the loss or being happy about it, but just accepting it. One of my favorite phrases is, "I don't like it, I can't change it, but I can accept it."

Full transparency: I'm in a state where I'm constantly switching between these. Some days I'm angry at the health care system for not taking me seriously or at my body for not working properly, and some days I'm at peace and accepting that I cannot change this and God has a plan. Other days I am back to being angry at pregnant women (which probably causes the most guilt of all because HELLO I want people to be happy for me when/if I get pregnant) and some days I'm in full on bargaining mode. I even have days where I'm like: LOOK AT ALL THE FUN THINGS I CAN STILL DO BECAUSE I'M NOT PREGNANT AND WE DON'T HAVE A BABY HA! TAKE THAT. And all of this is normal. It's normal to get "grief whiplash" as I like to call it, but it's not fun and it requires a lot of love, patience, and kindness from yourself and others.

So, grief sucks. If you've ever experience grief, you know this all too well. I want you to know that you're not crazy and you're not alone and all of your feelings are normal and valid. I can't promise you that it will ever get easier, but I can promise you that God will be with you in every step of your grief, even when it doesn't feel like it or you don't want Him to be.

In the meantime, I hope you all will put up with my grief whiplash (ha!).
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4 Best Crime-Related Podcasts

8.24.2016


I'm a HUGE podcast fan. I'm constantly listening to a podcast or audiobook. It can probably be classified as an addiction. I've written posts before about my favorite podcasts for believers, but I also have some other crime favorites that I'm dying to tell you all about. If you're even remotely into crime-related topics, you'll love these recommendations!

1. SWORD AND SCALE. This podcast isn't for the faint of heart. It's all about real crime and dives deep into the minds of the perpetrators and victims. It's tagline includes "...proving that the worst monsters are very real." I have heard some pretty gruesome stories in my job, but some of these episodes have had me in tears they are so terrible. Like, ugly crying. I know, sounds lovely right?!

2. UNDISCLOSED. If you loved Serial and Adnan's story, you'll love Undisclosed. They just started their second season and they're off to a running start. I was a huge fan of Serial but fell off in season two. Luckily, Undisclosed has me completely sucked into the second season. I love the different perspectives the hosts bring to the table and how deep they dig into each crime.


3. TRUTH AND JUSTICE.  Bob Ruff. He's a rock star. This podcast is similar to Undisclosed but is completely listener driven. This means that listeners are heavily involved in the investigations of wrongful convictions. Bob covers Adnan's story as well as a host of others. The first few episodes aren't the best, but this podcast has really evolved with time.


4. REAL CRIME PROFILE.  One of the hosts of this podcast, Jim Clemente, has helped out Bob Ruff with Undisclosed. Jim is a retired FBI Supervisory Special Agent/Profiler and former Prosecutor for the New York City Law Department, and he is amazing. He's joined by Laura Richards who is a criminal behavior analyst (Criminal Minds, anyone?!). This podcast digs into stories such as the OJ  Simpson case and is definitely worth a listen. I hear they have a new series on CBS coming out that revisits the JonBenet Ramsey case.

Some others I enjoy but didn't quite make the list include Actual Innocence, Serial, and Criminal.

What are your favorite podcasts?
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