As an introvert and deep thinker, I have a tendency to want to shut out the world around me. Too often I prefer to be free of distractions and the needs of others, and I have a tendency to want to live this way. Solitude and the freedom to work alone rejuvenate me. So much so, that I could opt for a solitary world at times.

Yet, there lies within me, as I believe it does for many of us, tension. While I thrive with plenty of time to work alone, I also long to be connected to others. I even find myself exploring ways to connect others to each other. I consider those on the outskirts of life and long to bring them into more connected living.

Ironic, isn’t it? Isolation & connection don’t seem to intertwine well. Yet, in God’s economy they can, even while they make for frequent internal struggles.

Give out or pour in? Give all I can for the sake of others, or cocoon and refuel for the sake of caring for self? The answers are complex and not easily understood or perfectly balanced. I’ve been on both sides with unhealthy extremes.

In finding balance, I learn about the qualities which make me unique, and how to apply them in life when those around me are created altogether differently. I learn to accept who I am while also seeking out who I am made to be. I learn to grow into my strengths while choosing to not neglect or dismiss the value of areas which I am not strong in.

Like many of us, I tend to lean in hard on the things preferred, yet God calls us into something greater. He draws us into a life with greater understanding, greater knowing, and greater fullness.

He calls us to know Him more and often does this through the gift of each other.

we need each other

We find ourselves in relationships which challenge us, stretch us, and make us realize the depth of our own inabilities. Then, as each of us lean into our own unique combination of strengths, desires, and passions, we get to see more of our great big God. We grow, together.

I know my heart would never fully agree with such romanticized notions of isolation. Never has, never will. Because shutting the world out isn’t part of God’s plan for any of us no matter how we’re wired.

I need you. I need to see you and your beautiful ways which are different from me. He calls me, and you, into relationships so we can act out our faith and live our lives within the context of community.

The fact is, I am a relational person regardless of my deep need for quiet and reflection. We all are, in our own unique ways. We are all created to be relational because we were made in the likeness of a relational God. Being relational is at the very heart of God, who is relational with himself in ways which we can never fully comprehend. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit relate together in perfect unity and harmony.

We are each created after His image, but not one of us could reflect enough of His image alone.

We see this in the great variety of answers among profile tests. We see this every time someone we’ve grown close to, because of our similarities, begins to show their differences. We see this when someone whom we admire challenges us in ways which make us squirm.

Because there is so much more to God then the parts of Him which we see best, we must choose to actively engage with others in ways which are sometimes uncomfortable. In doing so, we grow more into the image of God as we were created to be.

We can find delight in seeing various attributes of God displayed through others in ways which we do not know well ourselves. Through this we are frequently reminded how we are all broken reflections and in need of His amazing grace.

We need each other. Without you, I miss seeing more of Him.

So what do you do when every thing within you wants to close in and carve out a little space meant just for you, but another part of your heart says you need more?

What do you do with the commands to love one another? And His words which remind a weary heart to be still?

Maybe, you remember you are who He says you are and He is who He says He is.

Maybe, you allow space to figure out how to live within God-given limits while trusting in a God who is himself limitless.

Maybe, you don’t fall back on the temptation to say, “That’s just who I am.” Instead, you seek God and ask, “Show me more of who I really am as your creation, your child, and your beloved. Show me who you are calling me to be in the place where you have set me. Show me more of you in the world around me.”

Hopefully, we choose to see the beautiful attributes of God imperfectly displayed in the lives of others and come to appreciate them.

Hopefully, we grow into the ones which make us uniquely us and learn to reflect them well.

Because, in community we find how our strengths can be used for collective good and kingdom glory.

 

 

Jolene Underwood / Posts / Blog
Jolene Underwood is a faith warrior acquainted with many of life’s challenges as well as God's healing work. She is passionate about cultivating a life well-lived, because she knows the power of God to revive weary souls. She believes a well-lived life is one that goes from surviving to thriving, no matter what the circumstances are. Join her conversations of encouragement & faith at joleneunderwood.com and on social media at @theJoleneU
  • Beth D

    Thank you!

    July 11th, 2016 9:54
    Reply
    01
  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Jolene, thank you so much for sharing your heart here, and vulnerably so. I think that you and I are cut from the same cloth. I love solitude as an introvert. In fact, I not only thrive on it; I can’t survive without it. And yet I truly do love people, and am happier when I am relating to them. And beyond that we simply can’t fulfill our God-given callings if we live in a cave (and that is sometimes what I call my work as an author–living in my writing cave). Without others w/ whom to share the love of Christ, frankly I have caved into depression before. I love the balance you strike her at the Grace Table. And really you strike the balance that Jesus lived. He took time away in much silence and solitude to commune w/ His Father, and then He re-entered the sorority of society to minister to those God loved. I’ts a win-win. Thank you so much for sharing. I needed the reminder.
    Love
    Lynn

    July 11th, 2016 13:49
    Reply
    03
    • Jolene Underwood
      http://joleneunderwood.com/

      Beautifully put Lynn! I’m honored to share so many lovely qualities with you. You also bring things to light in a way which challenges me and reminds me of things I need to hear, even though you may not know it. Blessings, friend.

      July 12th, 2016 8:51
      Reply
      04
      • Lynn D. Morrissey

        Sometimes you bring tears to my eyes–like now. Bless you for who you are Jolene. You’ve become very precious to me.

        July 12th, 2016 12:45
        Reply
        05
        • Aslan
          http://vkqzmuhda.com

          Yo, that’s what’s up trulfhutly.

          March 9th, 2017 1:34
          Reply
          06
  • Theresa
    http://www.theresaboedeker.com/

    Thanks for your article. While sometimes I long for some time all alone (or dream of the prospects), it is only in community with others that I can learn to love my neighbor as myself and fully love and imitate God. If I was all alone dwelling in a cave I would have very little call to practice patience, or develop unselfish ways, or be kind in the face of adversity. But put me smack dab in the middle of people (whether a working environment, or family, or a college dorm) and now I have multiple (no, numerous) opportunities to sacrifice myself, grow spiritually, and develop the fruits of the holy spirit.

    July 12th, 2016 0:04
    Reply
    07
    • Jolene Underwood
      http://joleneunderwood.com/

      Theresa, yes. This! I love the way you outlined what it looks like to strike that balance in real life and how God can use it. Thank you for expanding this thought with your words. Practicing patience and unselfishness, oh these are challenging and so necessary. The beauty we see when we work it out with God is truly beautiful. Love it.

      July 12th, 2016 8:54
      Reply
      08
      • Lacey
        http://hqbuzeri.com

        I live near a Luchaitbver temple and the women all have about ten children and start at 17 or 18. What are teen birth rates like in Mexico? I am sure that the Mexican government is not as foolish as the US government in paying unmmaried teenagers to have children.

        March 9th, 2017 0:11
        Reply
        09
  • Elizabeth Marshall
    http://www.elizabethwmarshall.com

    Jolene,

    This was a love letter addressed in hand inked calligraphy…with my name on it. Thank you for this. I’m going to read it again and let it seep into my cracks. Love this community. Love you friend.

    July 12th, 2016 17:51
    Reply
    10
    • Jolene Underwood (@theJoleneU)
      http://joleneunderwood.com

      What a beautiful way to express your thoughts, Elizabeth. I’m humbled. Love you too, friend. Grateful to share this space with you.

      July 13th, 2016 9:28
      Reply
      11
  • Dawn
    http://www.journeysingrace.com

    Love this, Jolene. Love it. So much here resonates deep in my heart, so many things I can nod and agree with because I understand that long to dive in and then retreat. You are right, it is relating with others that see more and more of Him and are refined more thoroughly because He never leaves us the way He found us but continues to seek us and to mold us.

    Thank for this glimpse and offering of grace.
    Much love friend!
    Dawn

    July 13th, 2016 11:42
    Reply
    12
    • Jolene Underwood (@theJoleneU)
      http://joleneunderwood.com

      Love to you, friend! Man, it’s a challenge being changed, but I can’t imagine anything better than the way he molds us through it.

      July 13th, 2016 18:26
      Reply
      13
      • Judy
        http://okkfvaatfa.com

        Ces commentaires sont d’une c…ie sans nom. Un seul est valable. C’est effectivement un suiveur qui devait régler la note. Un (petit) ratage… mais quand on sait les innombrables problèmes d&aonuo;orgaqisrtisn de ces déplacements… Je pense que tout sera réglé facilement.

        March 9th, 2017 1:22
        Reply
        14

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *