An Interesting Question

Recently, I became involved in #writingcommunity on Twitter. Last week, I saw a poll that posed an interesting question I want to explore further today. What was the question? It was this. Are all writers introverts, or are they a combination of introvert and extrovert? I was also interested in how these personality temperaments affected writing so I read many of the comments as well.

The poll results were interesting. Of those who responded, 65% said they were introverts, 10% said they were extroverts, and 18% said they were a combination of both. Now, this is not a scientific sample by any stretch, but it was interesting. In case you were wondering, I fall fully into the introvert camp. I’m more comfortable and get my best ideas when I’m alone which is why this week will be such a special treat. During the day, no one else will be here except for me. Both of my children are out-of-town, and my husband is at work so I have plenty of time to be alone with my thoughts. This is a good thing. In fact, I will, more than likely, have to drag myself away from my notebook or computer for possible interactions with people. Or maybe not. I haven’t decided yet. 🙂

But, back to the poll. It didn’t surprise me that the majority of responses came from those who were introverts. In fact, I would say that most writers write alone. Writing is generally not considered a group project. There were writers though who said they were extroverts or a combination of both. And it made  me wonder. It made me wonder how they could sit at a computer and write for the amount of time it took to produce something since their energy gets renewed by being around other people.

I believe it comes down to this. In my experience, writers, of all types, have a tendency to be more self-aware. This can apply to temperament as well. With that being said, I believe everyone can write–introverts and extroverts. It just takes an awareness of when we need a break whether that means we go and do something else while still being alone or whether we go and see other people to be re-energized.

So, I guess my question should really be ‘Can people write whether they are introverts, extroverts, or a combination of both?’ And to that, my answer would be an unqualified yes! Because, I don’t want to put people into one group or another as being able to pursue a certain profession. That’s wrong. We are all human beings whether we are introverts or extroverts, men or women, white or black, Democrat or Republican, citizen or immigrant, or married or single. We, especially those of us who are believers, should love every person we come in contact with and refuse to demean them. Isn’t that what Jesus did?

God bless you all today!

Dancing in the Dark

I’ve been reading through my Lent book for the past ten days, and I’ve learned a lot about different kinds of fasts. This book doesn’t just talk about fasting from chocolate or the Internet. It goes down to the very basics of my faith, of our faith. In case you’ve forgotten, the book I’m reading is entitled 40 Days of Decrease, and the author is Alicia Britt Chole. Today, I want to talk about one of the fasts she suggests, one that reached down into the core of who I am.

It happened the other day. I was reading through the day’s entry, and I read such words as uncertainty, unknown, and mystery. Oh, this is something that’s easy, I thought. Wasn’t I writing my first thriller/mystery book? Then, I got to the day’s fast, and it hit me right in the gut. The fast was avoidance. What did I do when I faced the unknown, unknowable, uncomfortable, or unavoidable? If I was being honest, I would have to say I avoided it.

When I disagree with people or when they make me uncomfortable, I don’t stand up for myself. I don’t speak at all. I just walk away, many times with tears in my eyes. I don’t know how to address the conflict because I was never taught how.

I read back over the section again. It had nothing to do with what genre I wrote in and everything to do with what I thought about my faith. It asked questions I was not prepared to answer, but ones I knew I needed to answer. Here are the questions. “What does uncertainty trigger within us? What defaults do we gravitate toward when facing the unknown?” (pg. 44, Alicia Britt Chole, 40 Days of Decrease) Even though I write about mystery, I don’t embrace it like I did when I was younger. I do my best to solve it because that’s what the readers want. But, we can’t do that with our faith, and I believe that’s what the entry was trying to say. We’re not going to understand everything we say we believe no matter how much we might want to.

So, this fast of avoidance actually brought out two facets of my faith and my personality. The first is directly related to my faith. Chole says it well in the book. “Mystery is a given for relationship between the Infinite and the finite.” (pg. 44, Alicia Britt Chole, 40 Days of Decrease) I need to admit to myself I won’t ever understand everything about God or about my faith. I think that might be the only way I can fully embrace the work God wants me to do in this world.

The other thing it brought out was my tendency to want to control everything in my life, not just my faith. When a situation comes along I can’t control or when a situation turns out badly or not to my liking, I avoid it for as long as possible. I don’t want anyone to see my control slipping, and I definitely don’t like being in the middle of conflict.

God has convicted me about this issue though through reading this entry. He wants me to revel in and celebrate the uncertainty of life and faith. When I read what Chole says in 40 Days of Decrease, the first word that came to mind was ‘Yes!’ God told me, ‘This one is meant for you.’ “As we follow Jesus into uncertainty, we are free, in the words of Gerald G. May, to ‘join the dance of life in fullness without having a clue about what the steps are.'” (pg. 44, Alicia Britt Chole, 40 Days of Decrease) That was a conviction and a push my faith needed. May we all dance in the dark through good times and bad, through laughter and tears, and through certainty and uncertainty. May we all, me included, have the courage to live in the fullness of uncertainty and not avoid it.

God’s blessings on you all today!

Enough?

I hesitated before deciding on this topic for today. Who likes admitting they don’t think they’re enough. I don’t, and I’m sure y’all don’t either.  My Lenten devotional was what convinced me. It suggested that today’s fast should be a “tidy faith.” We should doubt and question all we need to, and our faith would be stronger for it. It made sense to me, and since my courage has been growing, I’m going to write it all out no matter who might like or dislike it.

A long time ago, I left the church, and I left my faith. Oh, I said I didn’t. I said I was still a Christian, but for the most part, God wasn’t spoken of in my home except in our homeschooling curriculum when we began homeschooling. With what I thought of as my own strength, we moved through such things as death, moving, illness, hospital stays, moving again, and a miscarriage. Drastic changes, to be sure.

But then, I found my faith again, and I found the church I attend now. I’ve written about this before. In the almost seven years though since I found my faith again, I’ve wondered about something. I’ve wondered if I was enough in God’s eyes. I know, clearly, the things I’m not enough of. Not pretty enough. Not wealthy enough. Not with my spouse enough. Not Christian enough. (I wasn’t raised in the church.) Not knowledgeable enough about the Bible. Not in the “in crowd” enough. Not good enough to pray out loud. Not good enough to teach. Not good enough to serve. (At least not in the places where my gifts lie.)

Now, these haven’t happened all of the time. There have been seasons for each where I’ve been enough, and some where I haven’t. I’ve been tempted to walk away during the times when it hasn’t been enough because, as I’ve already said, who likes feeling like they’re not enough. It was especially difficult when I started thinking if just my presence was good enough which made me want to ask this question. Is just my presence in a church to worship enough? Does God value my worship enough for me to come to church even though I might feel lonely for the presence of other people in my life? Does God value me enough as a daughter to value my worship?

I know He does now, and I will never let others take away His love again.  That is how much my faith and my relationship with my Lord and Savior means to me. I’ve prayed, studied Scripture, and just talked to God more in the past almost seven years than I have in a long time. The growth I’ve experienced has re-established my faith in ways I didn’t expect. God has been there for me countless times.

But, there is that pesky thing called “meeting together as a church body.” God wants us to do this, and it’s called for in Scripture. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” So, meeting together to worship. The times when I’ve felt the most lonely and wondered whether my presence was enough. I could easily give up corporate worship. In fact, there are times I feel closer to God when it’s just Him and me. I don’t feel the judgment of other people for not being enough, and it’s calm and peaceful in my heart and mind.

God called me to corporate worship though, and I want to acknowledge and fulfill His call on my life. So, even though I may never “do” another thing for God or serve Him in the church in any capacity or even be acknowledged during a service, I am enough because God says I’m enough. Worshiping Him with my presence is enough.

God bless you all!

Lent as “Sojourn”

I started something new today on Ash Wednesday. A book called 40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole focusing on the 40 days leading up to Easter. I’ve never done anything like this before for the time of Lent. In fact, I’ve never really gone through the whole period of Lent thinking about Jesus and His journey to the cross. Last year, I did read a devotional, but I started it late and with everything going on, I don’t think my focus was fully on it.

Not this year though. I have an insatiable hunger to know my Savior better. To know what it really meant and means for Jesus to go to the cross for me. This desire does not mean I will be doing activities in the church all of the time though I will do some activities. It does not mean I will adopt the attitude of being better than anyone else. I am the “worst of sinners” as Paul says in I Timothy 1:15. What it does mean is Jesus will be the focal point of my thoughts every day, and I will make a point of spending time with Him every day. Now, it might be argued I should be doing that all of the time, and I admit it. It’s true. But, Lent is giving me an opportunity to let the world dim and let Jesus be first. I plan on taking that opportunity.

So, Day 1. It was an introduction like one might expect for a book like this. It talked about the practice and history of Lent and of fasting. There was one thing that intrigued me though, and that’s what I want to focus on today. “Lent as sojourn.”

Usually, when I start something like this, I consider it a project. It’s a natural thing to do. All of my writing endeavors are projects, things I want to do my best to complete. Last year, I even blogged through a devotional wanting to prove to myself I could write every day for 100 days.

But, this is different. I don’t want to be keeping track of how often I’m reading or writing in the journal part of the book. I don’t want to measure my “success” by whether I spend enough time with Jesus. And today’s entry focused on that. “Lent as sojourn.” The author defines sojourn as a “temporary stay at a place.” “And a “stay” is about presence, not productivity.” (pg. 3, 40 Days of Decrease, Alicia Britt Chole) I want to be present during this experience. To stay with my Savior as I get closer to Him.

I might not write or post about every day in the book, but I wanted to record what I was doing so I could remember what I was thinking and feeling on March 6, 2019, at the beginning of Lent.

I want to end this by quoting Psalm 51:17 which represents what I want to take away from Lent this year. “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

God bless you all!

The In-Between Place

Creak! The exit gate from my complex begins to open. Creak! It opens slowly, not usually at the pace I’d like it to open. Creak! It finally opens all the way, and I’m able to leave my apartment complex with my car. I always have to take a deep breath while I’m waiting for the gate to open. My impatience to be on my way can disrupt my peace of mind if I let it, and it has on any number of occasions. Just like waiting in general, to be honest.

I started thinking about this the other day when I met a young couple about to have their first child. We did all the normal chit-chat expected of people meeting for the first time. Then, the wife said something that I think is fairly normal of people in this life situation. She said, of their impending birth, “I guess we’re going to be adults now. We finished our conversation, and the couple walked off. I was left thunderstruck though I know it was a normal kind of thing to say. But, did that mean my own children weren’t adults at the ages of 19 and 22? Did that mean single young adults or married young adults who don’t have children weren’t really adults? I know there are many young people who are living at home longer and who are putting off getting married, but…really? Why do we say our young people don’t have the capability  of being responsible or contributing to society before they are married or have families. It made me mad, and I’m neither sad or childless. Then, it got me to thinking of the in-between place my sons and I are both in right now, and that’s what I want to talk about today.

So, the in-between place. It’s like when I have to wait for the gate to open. There’s nothing to do, but wait. But, I think there’s a way to flourish in the waiting without hurrying to the next phase. My older son and his girlfriend get it. He graduates from college this May, but she has a few more years to go so they’re gonna wait until she finishes. My son knows he needs to start working and making money. They also know they’re not ready to be married yet. I don’t know about you, but that sounds responsible to me.

My younger son doesn’t have a regular girlfriend yet, but he also knows he’s not ready. He needs to prepare for his career and make his faith his own. But he’s responsible too. Does everything he’s asked, takes care of his classes and his part-time job, and is a genuine pleasure to be around. Yes, he and his brother play video games, but it’s certainly not all of the time, and it’s after all of their other responsibilities have been fulfilled.

I’ve already talked about my waiting place and how I’m  doing things to establish the next phase of my life so I won’t go into that further. But, I do want to ask a question. Do churches recognize this as a time where young people can flourish and have responsibilities? (beyond working with the youth group or having a college/singles ministry within the church) If the church is large enough, they might have a college and/or a singles ministry which can give young people opportunities to minister.

But, in general, I don’t think churches recognize this. Their college students were just their kids a short time ago, and it’s hard for people to get out of that mindset. When these students still have parents within the church, it’s even harder. I believe that’s why many young people leave the churches of their youth. So, they can be seen as adults.

This in-between place though shouldn’t be a dead and stagnant time for young people in their churches. It should be a time when students and single people are given increasing responsibilities in the church and taught about leadership. They should be mentored by others and able to flourish. That was the experience I had in college and as a single person, and I pray that happens for my own sons.

As I end, I ask you to think about this untapped potential in our churches. These young people want to change the world, and we have the opportunity to tap this energy for Christ. Because, they will find a place to expend it. If not the church, then where?

Have a great day, everyone!