Introvert to Extrovert

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The two times I’ve been to Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (it’s an amazing conference, but why DOES the title have to be so long?) I’ve been surprised at myself, at the way I come alive there talking to people. I’ve been advised to network with others at the conference, but I’m surprised because I don’t do it out of “ought to” but because I love it; I love talking to as many people at the conference as I can.

At first glance, it makes little sense. This is the same girl who was habitually late on purpose to Sunday School just so she wouldn’t have to do small talk with people (she loved!). This girl has to wrack her brain to keep a conversation going with an acquaintance. This one is completely exhausted after attending a Christmas party where she has to spend her time milling around chatting with one small group of girls after another, awkwardly not knowing when to excuse herself to go get another sprinkled cookie. I’m not shy, at least not like I was in fourth grade, and I love to be with my friends, but I am worn out in the end by many social situations, and I’d much rather be with two or three close friends than in a group.

Why did this introverted girl suddenly turn extrovert?

After reflecting, I think I know the main reason why, besides the fact that the people at a writing conference are for the most part my kindred spirits. It’s because I know exactly what to talk about with these people, and it’s almost the same subject with every person I meet there: What do you write? What are you working on? If I know the answer to those questions, the next questions are easy: Have you met with anybody? How have your classes been? And off we go.

You might think these same conversations would get boring, but they were absolutely fascinating to me. Each of the people there had a slightly different message from God, told from his or her own perspective, to be used in a unique way. Most weren’t quite sure how God would use what He had given, but they were there because they were hopeful. Even if they had already published, they were hopeful they could learn more, reach more people, or be more effective at their craft. How could I not love to hear each of these God stories, possibly fooling others into thinking I am extrovert? How could I not in turn be passionate to talk about the vision I feel God has given me for writing? After all, I believe it’s His story, not mine.

Many who were at the conference mentioned that a highlight was when Eva Marie Everson had all 400 of us stand in a circle around the room and compared us to Nehemiah’s wall around Jerusalem. If one of us dropped out of writing, there would be a crack in the wall, a hole that an enemy could use to his advantage. Each of us is different and each of us will tell a different story about what we’re writing, but we’re all important if we follow God’s leading and let Him use us where He wants to use us.

This is true not only for the different genres and niches in writing but for those outside of the writing field as well. In my life, besides the normal roles of daughter, wife, mother, etc., I have had the roles of teacher, coach, and writer. This is where God has given me ability, and how I pray He uses me. I think I can safely say I will never be a lawyer, doctor, construction worker, grocery store clerk, or masseuse. God has given me the passions and talents I need to do what He wants me to do. Now all I have to do is be obedient and do what He asks of me. My place in the wall is not more or less important than anyone else’s, no matter how it appears on the surface, and neither is yours. (See I Cor. 12 for another metaphor on the same subject if you need more of a reminder of this, and I’ve also written about this in another way here.)

So go stand in your place in the wall and fill the gap that would be left if you didn’t do what God called you to do. Use your unique talents and gifts so more of God’s beautiful story can be told, even to introverts like me.

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14 thoughts on “Introvert to Extrovert

  1. Heather, I could have written the second paragraph of this post. (Not as well, of course!) I feel as if you wrote it especially to me and I am sure everyone else who reads it will feel the same way. It is so personal. God will bless you in all you do! Jackie

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    1. Thank you, Jackie! That is very sweet to say. I’m glad it was able to do that. I don’t feel it’s me, though–I don’t do anything special, so God must bring out whatever good there is in it. And I’m sure you could do it as well! You are a writer, too!

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  2. Heather I totally enjoyed your blog post today! I am grateful you and your friends all sat at my table on my birthday (whether it was intentional or not) and I thought you were a delightful conversationalist! Loved Eva Marie’s Wall too…

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  3. Great post! Usually when I go to conferences I take the opportunity to recharge my introvert batteries. Somehow, at Blue Ridge, I was slightly rewired. For me there were two reasons.
    1) I found my people. I loved talking to people because we were all genuinely interested in what the other person had to say and not just not mildly interested either. This got to a whole other level when I found a group of fantasy writers on the last night and we could freely mention such things as board games and Star Trek.
    2) amazing conference design and planning. I distinctly remember being told early on how to start a conversation with “so what are you writing?”

    I walked away with more connections and new friendships than any conference I have ever attended.

    Thanks for stating so eloquently what so many of us feel, Heather.

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    1. Thank you, Matthew! You could definitely write this post and much better, too. Finding my people was huge for me, too, especially at Blue Ridge two years ago. I felt like I had found people who thought like I did–kindred spirits. I really feel like I made lifelong friends, even though we all live miles and miles away from each other.

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  4. I’m with you Heather! I usually last as long as “I’m fine, how are you?” before the conversation becomes awkward, and I had my moments at the conference, but there’s such a thrill in seeing The Body of Christ laid out so plainly and knowing I am a part of it. Great post, and an inspiring reminder.
    Rose

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    1. Thank you, Rose! I wish I could have talked with you more at the conference this time. I can see clearly at least one way God is using you, and your story is truly inspiring to me.

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  5. Thank you for this post. It has brought back to me what God had asked me to do years ago. I tried to follow another path but He has brought me back to this one. Thank you for your obedience and availability to be used to speak life back into me on what God has asked me to do. I have written a lot over the past year.I hope it inspires and reaches the heart of it’s readers. I just started writing for Hub Pages also.

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  6. Hi Heather – Well said. And I love knowing that people can feel the same way I do in awkward mingling settings. 🙂 It’s comforting. I’d take a long, keep conversation over that any day! But good counsel to remember the Nehemiah imagery. So you keep writing those deep and holy studies and I’ll keep trying to rhyme with gurgle, gulp and glorp!

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    1. Janet, I would love having a long, deep conversation with you–too bad we don’t live closer to each other. And I will definitely stay out of the children’s fiction and leave that to the truly talented Janet!

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