My phone lights up with a late-night confession filled with questions from Taylor Thomas, a fellow introvert who’s dear to me, someone who’s likable and smart, funny and kind. She confesses, “Sometimes I truly wonder why God made me this way,” then asks, “Have you ever dealt with that?”
My answer? Yes, I have sometimes questioned who I am too.
I grew up as a quiet, creative kid, who loved reading books (and dreamed of one day writing one). I enjoyed time on my own but cared about people too, creating a little circle of close friends. I needed time to think before I jumped into a conversation. People often told me I was a good listener. My active mind was always thinking or imagining.
Yet in spite of these strengths, I often wondered, like Taylor, if I needed to change. Maybe I should be louder or better at smaller talk. Fear sometimes still got the best of me. But trying to be someone I wasn’t only made me lonelier and led me to the brink of burnout.
After an especially exhausting year, I sensed God inviting me to stop running from who He created me to be, and instead learn how to thrive as an introvert. I read hundreds of articles, brain science studies, and books on introversion. Pursued a master’s degree in counseling, became a certified life coach, and wrote bestsellers. Collected advice, new and ancient, from introverts all over the world.
I discovered being an introvert isn’t about personality but how our brains and nervous systems are wired. (Three very quick examples: Introverts and extroverts differ in the primary neurotransmitter we rely on, part of the nervous system we use most, and the brain pathway utilized for processing.)
When I look at the creation story I see many complementary pairings, day and night, land and sea, male and female. I’ve come to believe introverts and extroverts are another one of these pairings. We are created as introverts and extroverts, both with incredible gifts and potential.
Research shows what introverts see as struggles may actually be their greatest strengths. For example, introverts have very responsive nervous systems. This means we’re vulnerable to anxiety but it also means we often have deep empathy for others. We use a longer, more complex brain pathway so we sometimes need more time to respond, but when we do we add depth and insight to conversations.
Leadership studies show introverts perform equally well as extroverts. Introverts often have deep social networks based on quality over quantity, including long-term relationships that significantly add to their overall physical and psychological health. And introverts contribute generously and creatively to our culture. So many world-changing causes, works of art, and innovations wouldn’t exist without the quiet efforts of introverts.
I believe our noisy, chaotic world needs what introverts have to offer more than ever before. We are here for such a time as this, created on purpose for a purpose. If you ever question who you are too, or someone in your life does, that can start changing today.
On a lovely autumn evening months after Taylor sent me the text I mentioned at the start of this chapter, she walked down a grass-covered aisle as a stunning bride. After the ceremony, all the guests joined the newlyweds in a barn with tiny lights strung from the rafters.
As I watched Taylor dance in her white dress, I thought, There is a woman who knows how much she’s loved. Despite the setting, I wasn’t thinking of love in the romantic sense. Over the previous few months, I’d gotten to be part of Taylor’s taking steps toward becoming more at peace with her true self, beginning to see her introversion not as a reason for insecurity but as a divine gift—a source of her strengths. She looked freer and happier, more whole and at rest.
God calls us a bride, which has always been mysterious to me, but that moment watching Taylor on the dance floor helped me better understand the analogy. Because what I saw in her is what I think He wants for each of us.
To know we’re made “in an amazing and wonderful way” (Ps. 139:14 NCV).
To be not only comfortable but quietly confident in our skin.
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