Community of Introverts
By Laura Rinas
If you were to ever meet me, which definitely should not be, like, a life goal or anything… But if you were to meet me, you would probably, and quickly, assume that I am an extrovert. I love people. And I love chatting with people. I tend to bring enthusiasm to a gathering, and don’t mind at all holding your attention. But the truth is, as much as I love that, it drains me. I am an introvert at heart, meaning that I need space from people, I need solitude to recharge. I prefer meeting with people one on one, but quickly reflex to just staying at home with my husband. I like our quiet nights together, with the kids in bed and the popcorn popped, and really struggle giving any of those up to invite others into our home. I am happy to bring the Happy to Church, or a Coffee Date, but my home is sacred. It’s my bubble, which protects me from the loud and often crowded world outside of it.
And yet, along with the Bible and Prayer, Community is one of the main facets of Christianity. How does that work for me? Is it enough that I go to church, run the Moms Ministry? Is it enough that I work with a group of over 100 women in the world of entrepreneurs? Can I just have that fill that pre-requisite and keep my bubble the way it is at home?
I really want to say yes to that question. I really want to say that I need space to recharge, and that no one would expect me to give that up. But what if, in giving up the solitude we find each night in our home, we might find something… more?
In Luke 24, we find a fascinating story about an encounter the disciples had with Jesus after Jesus’ death. There were two of them, traveling together, discussing what was happening. It had been three days since the death of Jesus, and they just had heard the story that the women were telling… that they had gone to the tomb and it was empty. They were joined by a stranger, who we know as readers was Jesus. They talked with Jesus for their entire trip, but their eyes “were kept from recognizing him” (Luke 24: 16). They marveled that this strange man seemed to know nothing about the circumstances surrounding the life and death of Jesus, and they shared their disappointment that Jesus had turned out not to be the type of savior that they had wanted. (It turns out, in fact, that this was a very good thing, because, like most things, what they wanted would not have been good for them. Jesus was what they needed, what we ALL needed. They just hadn’t figured it out yet.) The disciples invited this stranger to dine with them, and in verses 30-31, we read: “When he was at the table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished from their sight.”
This glancing, short-lived, intermittent community that we do today, where Facebook messages and texts have replaced discussion and physical presence… it is not enough. We can walk through this whole life and miss people. We can walk this road and lament about how things have gone wrong, how people are dying but all we have is confusion and an uncertainty about what the next step is. We can walk that road our entire lives and MISS HIM. It was not until they invited this stranger into their home, until they broke bread with him, that they were able to see Christ standing there.
My time and space is so precious to me as an introvert. But what if that makes that sacrifice that much sweeter to our brothers and sisters? If you are like me, if you struggle to People, if you struggle to offer yourself and your home up, I challenge you in this: Start small. Start with one friend. How you do Community will not, and should not, look like how your friend who is an extrovert does Community. God has created you, trust him that your tendency to avoid crowds is ok. Trust that your comfort with just one or two people at a time is a good thing. We need to be a part of a large group, that’s part of life. But we need that intimate interaction as well. So trust that you fill a void that is so necessary and so vital.
Don’t sweat the details. Clean if you must, but only where you guys will be sitting. Order pizza or takeout if cooking is not your love language. Have coffee on, have your cups ready. Make the first offering of vulnerability and see where that takes you. Invite Jesus in, break bread with strangers. Let your eyes be opened to the hint of God that is in each of us, regardless of our differences.
Start small. Start easy.