I fight and play with loneliness. Got a love/hate relationship with her.
But the problem is that I was created to be with someone (someone who is not her). And I was designed for community… a community bigger than me, myself and I.
Oh yes, I am a proud introvert. I honor the style of my people. But we need the courage to ask ourselves, “Why am I alone right now?”
“Is it because God created me this way and I need this space to recharge?” (which is a legitimate need for introverts).
Or because, “I’m afraid to be rejected.” “I’m expecting others to judge me.” “I want to do whatever I want with my time!” (Which is false humility and pride)
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” – Brené Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection
There are obvious elements of introvert-ness that are healthy and legitimate. We need our time to process and recover. To inhale and discover (and not say a thing).
My eldest son Alejandro is one of us. And he’s only 4. It’s not like he’s learned how to distance himself; his heart just knows. After a few hours with others (even those he loves most) he needs time alone. Just him and his 4-year-old thoughts.
I radically accept that about him, and about myself.
But I want to make sure the label introvert does not rob us from the beauty of family and community and authentic relationships.
Being alone is great. Being lonely is not.
I live in this peculiar tension of having an “extrovert” job (pastor, speaker) while being an introverted person. Yet sometimes on stage, in front of a crowd of thousands, I feel the most alone (and the most safe). Because somehow in front of all those people, it’s just me. No one else speaking. No one else reaching. And I am more comfortable there, than in a dinner party with 15 of my closest friends.
I struggle with loneliness. And ministry has given me the platform, and the excuse, to keep struggling.
However, the account of the voice of God in the Garden is, “Let us create man in our image and our likeness.”
Notice the us, in plural. As in, more than one.
In our origins (and by design) we were not formed to be, or stay, alone.
AsA core tenet of Christianity has always been the idea of the Trinity—three persons whose love for each other runs so deep and pure that the boundaries of their identities blur and they become one. God does not think it is right for people to be alone because He Himself has never been alone.”
God sees in me what He saw in Adam. God says to me what He said to Adam, “It is not good for Carlos to be alone”.
I need the company of my friends. I have a deep (unspoken) craving for the sounds of connection. The best thing for me is the proximity of my wife.
I’m not an expert at it.
But God surely is.
And He formed my heart to be like His.
Now think about it.
Adam had God all for himself. No sin to hinder their access. No distractions from each others’ proximity. Still God said, “It is not good for Adam to be alone.” Genesis 2:18
God said that.
The One who by definition is present and complete.
The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit were more than enough for Adam to be satisfied with (they are more than enough for you and me). But God still said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.”
As if He was saying, When you embrace a companion, you get the full experience of my companionship.
I know after battling with depression, boredom and despair this last year, that is it not good for me to be alone.
I like it. But I could use less of it.
Danny Silk wrote in Powerful and Free “None of the animals could take away Adam’s loneliness, because they did not fit with him – they were not his equal. God made Adam in His likeness, designed to be in intimate relationship with someone who was part of him and inseparable from him – mirroring the perfect union of the Trinity.”
So this is an honest request for all my introverted friends, we addicts of Netflix and good books and noise canceling headphones: Don’t let your need for space lie to you about your need for another.
I love being an introvert, but I hate being a coward. So I’m leaving the comfort of my fears, I’m divorcing loneliness and I’m choosing the ways of God.
Let’s be bold together.
Pick up the phone. Talk to your friends. Connect with your spouse. Stay a little bit longer. Honor the original design.
Then go back to your cave with a smile on your face, knowing that you experience the glory of the garden.
And hopefully I’ll see you there, next time you visit.