Labels. Our culture has a love/hate relationship with labels. "Don't you dare label me or put me in a box. But I demand to label myself and put myself in a box. And if you don't treat me the way I want according to my label and my box, you are a jerk."
Every other day there is a link in my Facebook newsfeed about being an introvert; how to treat an introvert, how not to treat an introvert, support groups for introverts. I read a post one time about ten things not to do to an introvert.
Come on. That list was ten things not to do to any human; introvert or extrovert.
I've been thinking lately...was Jesus an introvert or an extrovert? The thing is, I can't imagine Jesus claiming the label of either.
He didn't demand that being alone was the only way he could recharge. He didn't insist that he had to be around people and have many friends or his life felt lacking. He was himself. He didn't give the silent treatment when he should speak, he wasn't a stuffer of emotions that needed to be expressed, he didn't keep talking when it was best to be quiet.
He flowed freely and easily, not focused on what he preferred in the moment, but focused on doing his father's will. With ease he left the crowd and pushed away from the shore, and with ease he went into the crowd and spoke with confidence.
I can't imagine this..."Look, if I don't get out of this town, away from these people, and get quiet time on a boat, I won't be able to function. Do you have any idea how hard it is for an introvert to be around all of these people?!" Or this..."I need to be around a lot of people. It energizes me and makes me feel alive. I feed off of loud parties with a few hundred of my closest friends. Like that time with the fish and the loaves, that was the BEST! I am an extrovert!"
Yes, we respect that we are different. We have different ways of interacting, relating, expressing. However, we shouldn't use these differences as leverage to insist on what we prefer. Notice the word prefer? When you take a personality test, you decide on your preference in each category. Prefer means to like (someone or something) better than someone or something else (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). To prefer certain social situations and to need certain social situations are not the same thing.
I am a people person who prefers solitude, a cabin in the woods over a large city, deep conversations with a friend, and the quiet life in the country. I really feel uncomfortable in large groups, but I enjoy leading a group. I think it's fun to talk to strangers. Does this make me an introverted extrovert?
There are situations that can be physically, emotionally, and mentally draining. We do need to be aware of red flags, and know when and how to nurture ourselves so we don't burn out. Yes, we may have different ways of nurturing ourselves, but does that mean we demand to have social situations be the way we prefer? Is this our excuse for getting our way?
I heard John Eldridge on a podcast one time talk about people justifying their behavior because of their personality. He said people will say, "Well, that's just the way I am."
"No", John said, "That's sin."
Along with the "need" to label ourselves introvert or extrovert is the "need" to label our lifestyle.
Have labels and lifestyles become our god?
A while ago I wrote a post entitled Trendism about trends becoming legalistic. More and more it seems the obsession with a certain lifestyle has consumed our culture. You cannot scroll through a news feed on social media without the message of "this lifestyle is the best". Whether it is CrossFit, minimalism, cloth diapers, simplicity, hippies, real women have curves, vegan, paleo, anti-vaxxers, you should only do what makes you happy, life is too short not to party...etc.
Do you bow at the altar of your introverted, hippy, tiny home, minimalist, essential oil, Birkenstock lifestyle?
Do you bow at the altar of your vegan, cloth diaper, anti-vaxxer, simplistic lifestyle?
Do you bow at the altar of your extroverted, party till you drop, be happy no matter what lifestyle?
Do you bow at the altar of your paleo, Cross fit, I do 100 burpees after I do olympic lifts lifestyle?
We are all going to have passions, pursuits, things we are drawn to, a way we enjoy living our lives, and that is a beautiful gift from God. However, if our lifestyle and personality type become our idol, our god, our way of being better than others, a way of getting what we want, it no longer glorifies God. And it causes division.
When a healthy, homeschooling, bohemian, vegetarian, fitness trainer, nature loving, introverted extrovert way of life becomes my god, I am dead in sin. I want to walk in newness of life, to have union with Christ, to be alive in Christ. God, thank you for my passions and preferences and forgive me for making them more important than you and others.
A pastor asked Dallas Willard "what was the human issue, irrespective of church life or religion that Jesus came to address. Dallas responded, "Jesus came to respond to the universal need to know how to live well. He came to show us how, through reliance on him, we can best live in the universe as it really is. That is why he said, 'I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly' (Jn 10:10). His supremacy lies in the greatness of the life he gives to us. Putting Jesus Christ into a worldwide competition with all known alternatives is the only way we can give our faith a chance to prove his power over the whole of life."
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:22-23