Consider the Extrovert . . .

18 Dec

I have said before that I think jealousy is vastly overrated.  As in, I think that 80% of the time when someone is accused of being jealous, some other interpersonal issue is in play.  It is just easier to claim that person is jealous of us, shut down dialogue, and walk away self-satisfied and unchanged, despite the fact God put us here to all learn from each other and grow.

As a person who is predominantly extroverted, I have been reading the discussions of introversion this year with my thinking cap on.  We extroverts are not superior to introverts, nor are they superior to us. God made us all.  Diversity is good.  The world would not function very well if it were all extroverts or all introverts.  We all have something different to offer.

I want to offer that extroversion and introversion appear to be inborn traits that don’t change.  Nor should we wish them to change.  We are who we are.

Some examples of what is not helpful in the dialogue about introversion vs. extroversion: 

1) when someone quotes verses about loud people (particularly loud women) out of context to imply that any spirited conversation is a mark of the beast

2) when someone quotes the verse about sin being associated with many words, assuming that the extrovert has never read that verse and that the extrovert just opens her mouth and lets words tumble out, with no thought behind them ever

3) when someone treats introversion as shame/poor self image and delivers lectures on why the introvert should try harder to discover who God created her to be (I actually got that one from a blog post on introversion, but I totally understand why it would be a pain!)

Obviously, I just used some hyperbole on that list, but it is not far off the mark of how we often overlay our personality onto others and then try to push them to be like us!!!  They are to follow us as we follow Christ, not just follow us blindly.  And following Christ means embracing diversity–the very diversity He created.

Actually, I am pretty sure that, when it comes to jealousy, the true introverts and the true extroverts are never jealous of each other.  We know who we are and where we want to be!

What happens is you have shy people who are, at heart, extroverts and . . . in their growth to become the person God created, they can feel jealousy toward those who are already free to be very extroverted.  Or maybe not jealousy, but just tension of some sort.

If you feel blocked from expressing your thoughts and feelings and are extroverted enough to wish to do so, I think it can be hard to see a sister in Christ who is just carrying on at church, doing that very thing. That can be where some of our issues arise.  And, unfortunately, sometimes it is easier to criticize that sister in Christ for her openness than to work on our own.

I have seen this in choir sometimes, over the thirty plus years I have been in adult choirs.  

You can have an extroverted singer like me who sings out, mistakes and all, in order to learn where the mistakes are while at practice, so they can be fixed for the performances.  And you can have shyer ladies who don’t sing out because they would be mortified if anyone ever called them out on a mistake (it doesn’t matter that choir directors rarely call individuals out on mistakes–they don’t sing out just in case . . .).

All of this would function fine except there seem to be times when those timider singers get utterly fed up with the ones who sing out and, as is their quieter way, they may try to undermine the more outgoing people from behind the scenes, complaining behind their backs that they are prima donnas.  

I have been the timider singer.  I spent two years in London in a choir with two professional (paid) singers per part and it was hard to get much sound out of me at all back then.  But I changed over the years.  Now I am the one the director looks at when a piece suddenly hits forte or fortissimo.  And that is okay!

It is actually okay to have the other stuff, too–the prima donna labels behind the scenes and all–because I don’t go around doing that to others so I expect they have no actual cause nor justification to do that to me.  And . . . if they don’t, then all I can do is continue to sing and keep my heart pure and free from rancor towards my fellow choir members.

If they choose to have rancor toward me, it is not my issue.

If we would all understand that the best defense against gossip is a life full of integrity, I think we would all get along much better, introverts, extroverts, and people in between.  

Amen! 

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