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 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.