Hello. My name is Kerry Johnson, and I like to be alone.
No, no. A more accurate word is need to be alone. I crave time by myself more than I crave Twizzlers in a dark movie theater.
Time when no one is around, when I can pray and listen for His voice, breath in His creation, or read and write. When silence seeps through my senses and my constantly-spinning brain is overcome by a Peace that passes all understanding.
Though I’m comfortable in groups – even with new people – and I enjoy talking one-on-one with others, there’s no denying the personality I’ve had my whole life.
I’m an Introvert with a capital I.
There have been times in life when my soul-deep need to be alone was pushed down, subdued – like when I had a 6 month old and a two year old at home and I desperately craved adult conversation. But as our boys have grown, the need for solitude reemerged in a powerful way.
My sister knows this all too well. She spent hours of our childhood, probably full days, chasing me through the Connecticut woods, often to no avail. I was usually too busy talking to trees and creating characters in my imaginary world to play Barbie dolls, card games, or watch movies.
I can still picture the two huge boulders we’d climb on, one shaped like an enormous mammoth, the other boulder low and narrow.
Nature’s jungle gym.
There was a perfect spot atop the mammoth rock, a tush-sized indentation which looked and felt like a horse saddle. We fought over who would ride it, then she’d want to play along, but I’d shrug my shoulders.
No thanks, I’ll ride the giant rock-horse-mammoth-thing by myself.
Though we joke about it now, I feel badly that I wasn’t the gregarious sister she needed. She’s still very social, while I suffer from allergies to drawn-out phone calls and being around people for long periods of time.
Introversion seems to be a common personality trait of writers, but I don’t want that truth – or excuse – to hinder whatever God calls me to do, whether it’s writing for Him, teaching 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday school, or going on a missions’ trip to another country.
The other day I was taken aback when ‘introvert’ popped up on my laptop screen in an email from dictionary.com.
Is that you, Lord?
Introvert: A shy person; a person characterized by concern primarily with his or her own thoughts and feelings.
Reading that definition –and typing those words – caused a frown and prickles of guilt in my soul. Picturing my life as a chocolate cake, I wonder if it’s iced with selfishness due to my intense desire for solitude.
I certainly don’t want to be concerned primarily with my own thoughts and feelings! I want my Savior’s heart to guide and direct mine, and I want to put others’ needs before my own.
I prayed about it, the Holy Spirit reminding me of Ecclesiastes 4: 9 & 10.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another lift him up!”
Help me lift others up for You Jesus, not tie myself down, closed to those around me and their needs.
When I look at my sister’s social life I get overwhelmed. I feel myself close up, folding all I am inward at the idea of giving up quiet time and having to deal with hoards of people often.
Always, God’s word draws me back, reminding me, rebuking my natural tendency toward solitude and reminding me to consider what I’ve been saved for.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”~ Hebrews 10:23-25
Jesus is my Hope, and He is faithful. So faithful. The prayer of this tied-up introvert is that I’ll consider others in order to stir up love and good works, and I won’t forgo getting together with others because of my preference for time alone.
Doing so may mean an hour-long phone conversation during precious writing time at night, or being part of a Friday night get-together when I’d rather be crashed at home with my guys or creating tap-a-tap music on my laptop.
For Jesus – and only with His help – I can step outside of my personal need for solitude in order to fill my part in the Body of Christ.
Jesus, teach me to untie myself for You.