Are You One Of The Quiet People?

 

Quiet

Some time back one of our relatives remarked “You are the quiet people.” I think it was an interesting way of reframing our tendency at times to be more than just introverted. It’s not shyness and it’s not antisocial. I am not exactly sure how to label it. But I have a high need to withdraw and be introspective a lot of the time.

I might say “I am just not a morning person” because it seems I require a lot of time in the morning to come alive. But I’m not sure that is totally accurate, either. It feels more like I am a computer that downloaded software updates during the night and when I wake up all that data has to install before I can become operational. And during that time my need for quiet is intense.

Nan is a bit different. She might sleep later than me, but she tends to wake up pretty much “on”. But I know she needs blocks of quiet, too. Sometimes they coincide with mine and sometimes not. When they don’t there can be some friction.

This need for quiet can be interpreted as “unfriendliness” or arrogance or superiority sometimes. But that is not the truth. It is more a case of competing needs. Extroverts want to process out loud. Interaction energizes them – like coffee does for me – a quiet cup of coffee.

How about you? Are you one of the quiet people, too?

If you are I might suggest over-communicating your need for quiet or alone time to those around you. Don’t wait until you start to feel annoyed or irritated. It may seem better to try to endure, but a kind request will probably be more effective.

If you are not one of the quiet people, you will need to observe those with whom you interact. Are they starting to withdraw even though you have not said anything offensive or controversial? You might want to check out if they are becoming overwhelmed or overloaded by the conversation. Again, a kind inquiry rather than taking offense or doing the all too prevalent mind reading or interpreting will serve you better.

Some extroverts can’t fathom how painful it is for a shy introvert to be the center of attention. And some introverts can’t imagine why anyone would want to get up in front of a group or stand out.

Again, I don’t necessarily think this just comes down to extroversion vs. introversion. I think there are variations of temperament that need to be factored in as well. For example, I really take pleasure in getting lost in a book. And I know some extroverts that are just like me.

The best understanding would probably be to say that we exist along a continuum that represents both extremes, from super quiet to super expressive. And some of us probably move along that continuum pretty fluidly. I have heard people at church declare adamantly to me “No way are you an introvert.”

But then again, they haven’t seen me at home.

Belonging

Belonging

We were at a memorial for a friend this week. These events are always bittersweet for me, and I’m sure for everyone else.. We celebrate a life while at the same time mourning the loss. They grab our attention and trigger all sorts of feelings. Perhaps the younger people don’t fully comprehend the shortness of life, and the value of not wasting energy on things that don’t matter. But many who attended surely do.

As I looked around the room and recognized so many old and new friends I was struck by an intense feeling of belonging. These are my people. This is my extended family. Many of the folks that were in that room would care if something happened to me, just like they cared about our friend. The feeling was “We lost one of ours.”

People who isolate, whether physically or emotionally do not experience the “belonging” that I am talking about. There are few intimate stories that can be related about them. But those who have risked being known will have many who can speak about them in detail.

“These are my people”

I think the “anonymous” groups like AA are successful because they create a sense of belonging. It doesn’t matter that the reason for being there is the result of pain and error. What matters is the acceptance and the sense of belonging. Like it or not, these are “my people.” Often there is a fierce loyalty that is created.

I have spent many of my years in shallow relationships, afraid to be known. It took a lot of intentionality to break free from operating defensively. Perhaps you can relate. I am not saying that we should develop intimate relationships with everyone. Far from it. Not everyone is safe and worth the risk. But we must find a place where we can belong and seek out the connections that will hold up under stress.

Some people believe they have no relational need outside of their nuclear family. I have seen too many very unhealthy families to agree with that position. Especially when we come from a broken family we need to belong to an extended, supportive group. I am not suggesting that we abandon family (except under dire circumstances), rather just not make the family our exclusive relational world.

Some groups that we belong to are temporary or transitional, like school or work related. Others are more permanent like our church or career. I was in several bands in the early years, but mostly one career. The intensity of the feeling of belonging in each was related to my investment. The more I invested (risk involved) the stronger the sense of belonging.

I believe that the church (God’s family, not the building) can be the most genuine expression of belonging that is available to us. Yes, belonging to this family can sometimes be challenging because it is made up of people. However, the underlying stated values, when followed, will be self correcting. These values include love, forgiveness, humility, peacefulness, patience, kindness and many more. When these values are held as essential goals, who wouldn’t want to belong?

Dedicated to Dan Raymond

Making Old Things New

old things new

We recently bought a cabin about four hours away from our home in Los Angeles. It was built in 1982, making it 35 years old. For us this is relatively new compared to our primary home which was built in 1930.

One of the fun aspects for me is making small repairs and renewing some of the neglected things around the cabin. I am also crafting or repurposing a few things from cast aside materials and secondhand stores.

This metaphor (or is it simile or analogy?) has been used numerous times to illustrate how God works in us, making us new and doing so with delight. But I think we also have an opportunity to do the same in our relationships with each other.

We live in a culture that tends to throw things away. We replace rather than repair. But I have found that we often trade down rather than up. Our old toaster got much hotter than our new one. So did our iron (you know, the thing that you used before permanent press came along). Unfortunately people do that with relationships as well.

So how do we reverse that in marriage or friendships or at the workplace?

We make old things new:

  • Every time we mend a relationship with forgiveness
  • Every time we treat someone with a more positive attitude
  • Every time we swallow hurtful words
  • Every time we confront with love rather than avoid
  • Every time we listen rather than doing all the talking
  • Every time we make room for the other person’s perspective
  • Every time we power down rather than power up

I can demolish something very quickly. Give me a big hammer and a crowbar and I can reverse someone’s craftsmanship in a mater of minutes (often my own). That doesn’t take skill or maturity. What does take skill is to look at something that has been neglected or damaged and figure out how to lovingly restore it.

When Nan and I were younger that was the choice that was in front of us. We chose the harder path of making old things new by going to counseling. It changed our lives, mine especially. Do you hear a challenge in this? Is the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart?