web analytics

“As Christians, we are called to convert our loneliness into solitude. We are called to experience our aloneness not as a wound but as a gift–as God’s gift–so that in our aloneness we might discover how deeply we are loved by God.”
~Henri Nouwen ~

When I first saw that quote, this verse popped into my head: “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 ) A little research revealed that “be still” comes from the Hebrew term raphah meaning slack or to let drop. In reference to a person, it means to be disheartened or weak.Psalm 46 actually begins with “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” There is a fabulous rock song based upon that verse . . . I’ve played and sung it more times than I can count. And, of course, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” composed by Martin Luther, was inspired by it.

So if to “be still” actually means that to be disheartened or weak, it makes sense that we should pause to remember the source of our strength when we are experiencing those emotions.

Have you ever taken the Myers-Briggs Personality Test? I’ve taken it on a couple of different occasions. The first time I did, I was shocked to see the first letter of my results: I. As in “Introvert.” I was certain the test was invalid.

I am not shy. Never have been. I enjoy meeting new people and interacting with them. Did someone say party? Everyone in the office is going out to lunch tomorrow? I’m there. The activity that most inspires fear in the general populace — public speaking — is something that I thrive on. I do a lot of speaking, teaching and training . . . I love it! I put all those years that I spent in school and community theaters to good use. I’m also a musician and absolutely love performing. In fact, I am least happy and content when I don’t have an upcoming performance. I have a hard time getting motivated to practice when there is no concert looming because I am goal-oriented and driven by deadlines.

So I couldn’t understand how that wacky test could possibly label me — me, of all people! — an “Introvert.” Here’s how:

Extroverted Characteristics

  • Act first, think/reflect later

  • Feel deprived when cutoff from interaction with the outside world

  • Usually open to and motivated by outside world of people and things

  • Enjoy wide variety and change in people relationships

Introverted Characteristics

  • Think/reflect first, then Act

  • Regularly require an amount of “private time” to recharge batteries

  • Motivated internally, mind is sometimes so active it is “closed” to outside world

  • Prefer one-to-one communication and relationships

As the facilitator explained it to me, all of the factors listed above are important, but the most indicative characteristics are how an individual recharges his/her batteries and the source of his/her motivations. Looking at it from that perspective, I am clearly and inarguably an Introvert.You will frequently find me by myself, both here at home, as I am right now, and at the office. And when I am in the office, you will usually find my door shut most of the way, if not latched. I spent a number of years working in corporate cubicles and I distinctly remember looking forward to graduating from law school because it meant that I would henceforth have my very own office — with a door I could shut. I jokingly tell people “Hey, I earned that door so pull it almost shut on your way out, o.k.?” That’s partly because I have my office stereo tuned to smooth jazz all day every day and don’t want to disturb anyone else. But it is primarily because I get my batteries recharged and my brain ready to go out and interact with others through spending time by myself. That’s when I am most productive, complete the greatest amount of work, find inspiration.

I love people, but hate crowds and “when I’m done, I’m done.” In social situations, it is like the timer on the Thanksgiving turkey pops up signifying that I am cooked. When I have had “my fill” of interaction with others, I need to escape and be by myself. It truly is like rechargeable batteries that need to be recharged. Too much social activity leaves me drained and exhausted.

So I relate to and comprehend the idea of aloneness as a gift from God. I enjoy being alone to read, ponder, think, practice music, watch a movie or television show . . . I rarely feel lonely, although, like every human being alive, there have been moments. I especially need to be left alone to contemplate matters when I am upset, sad or angry. I prefer not to discuss things at those times. I would rather think things through and speak only after I’ve had time to gain some objectivity and clarity.

So aloneness is definitely not “a wound,” to my way of thinking and functioning. Rather, it is in my aloneness that I am able to be “still” and know in a very real sense the source of my strength and where I always have a safe harbor, a refuge from life’s demands and challenges. It is my aloneness that I get energized to face the world again. That is indeed a gift.

Psalm 46 concludes:

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Comments are closed.

Pin It