Saturday, April 17, 2010

Is church for introverts?

As I wearily approach Sunday tomorrow I've been pondering how church works for introverts.

I like people.  I like talking to people a lot.  But I also need a lot of time of on my own so I can keep enjoying talking to people.  I don't get a lot of time of my own because of my family, so regaining energy can be challenging.

This is certainly in the "what happened to me?" category.  I used to love being with people all day.  In fact I would struggle to be on my own.  I can remember when I had my first baby, organising activities for the mornings and the afternoons so that I was only on my own for his sleep time in the middle.  I loved being away on conferences so that I had people on tap all the time.

But I've changed.  I love being at home on my own.  Not quite sure why.  It is partly the kids, but it could also be getting older, having a fuller life ...

Back to my original question.  How does church work for introverts?

Being honest, I've found church life harder as I've become more introverted.  I like going to church on Sunday and I love chatting to people there.  I like having a lunch afterwards too.  I can cope with attending a Bible study (just).  And that works fine for me.

But what about extra events?  Social gatherings?  Women's conferences?  Coffee mornings?  Training courses?  I really struggle at the thought yet they are all good, fun events to go to.  However, I'm content with catching up a few times a week.  I feel connected.

So are the many events run by churches partially motivated by extroverts?  People who want to be with others a lot?  Maybe - I certainly organised lots of church social events in my past more extroverted life.

Am I just tired?  Is my personality changing?  Do I have too full a life?  Would love any insights you have.

6 comments:

Meredith said...

Hi Jenny.

I think given the similarity of our situations - except that you twice as many children plus one than I do AND you are studying - I can safely say that you are just tired. Because that is how I feel too. In fact, just two weeks ago, just before we took two weeks leave, I left morning tea after church after only five minutes because I just didn't have it in me to talk to anyone.

I don't think it is a change of personality - although I think that personality grows and evolves as life rolls on - but I think what we are experiencing is a change in capacity.

Some of that may have to do with (dare I say it) getting older.

And also, once one has been seriously run down for an extended period of time, I think the propensity to feel that way or else to be hit by it again will stay with us. It is a bit like a low level depression. Once someone has had depression my sense is that it is never cured. It can be managed but it lies dormant. And so strategies need to be put in place to make sure that it doesn't rise to the surface - easy enough strategies like enough sleep, good diet, exercise, setting good priorities so that the diary isn't over stacked. The last one is probably the trickiest - as we manage our children with their increasingly busy lives in addition to everything else we do.

So I don't think your personality is changing or that you are becoming an introvert. I just think you are tired, need some time to recover and then need to take care into the future.

I hope that's not depressing. It's part of the transition. And those who have gone before me assure me that it gets easier.

Step one - early nights. :-)

Mxx

Jenny said...

Thanks Meredith. All those comments make a lot of sense of how I'm feeling. I sometimes feel like I'm coming out of some kind of decade long adrenaline rush and now there is a little more space in my life, I've crashed a bit. I'm curious to know how long it will take me to recover!

Ruth said...

Jenny - I know how you feel. I was wondering whether having five kids, and spending sooooo much time with so many children for so many years just means a kind of noise tiredness?

I don't crave adult company like other mothers do, I crave just to be by myself, and to sit in quiet.

I think it's a tiredness thing from many many years of having little personal space. That's how it is for me anyway. I never enjoy going to church events, but love it while I'm there. I would describe myself as an introverted extrovert. Dread going, last to leave once I'm there... but getting me to leave the house to go is a big struggle... cause I just want to stay at home in quiet.

I think it is partly phase, and partly growing older, for me anyway.

Sarah said...

Hello, I recently found your blog and have been very much enjoying it.

I know for me, I have lost a bit of social confidence since I moved from Perth to a farm after I got married. Suddenly I went from a social single to a far less social married woman with a much less cluttered diary. I work part-time instead of full-time and can go for several days without speaking to anyone until my husband comes home. Since then I've struggled when I do go out with groups of people, particularly at parties where there are 'roving' conversations. I think I've lost a bit of practice and therefore I find I have to 'psych' myself up a bit when I do go out instead of being on constant adrenaline.

Now I don't have kids or depression but after talking to some friends who are mums, they said they find the isolation of going from work to stay-at-home mum responsible for the lack of desire for conversation when the opportunities arise. Sometimes it's a change of life circumstances, sometimes it's fatigue or a combination but I think the other commenters are right and it's just a phase of life.

Kath said...

Hi Jenny,

Perhaps it may be tiredness and the busy time you've had with kids. Or it may be that you are developing more capacity for introversion and reflection as life goes on. That you don't need such a buzz from other people to enjoy life. We change with life stages and you could see it as new growth (maturing rather than personality change).
Cheers,
Kath

Pip said...

Maybe your extroversion people quota is filled up by your immediate family each afternoon/evening and weekend. Then the time you have alone is probably used to study...so the precious time that is left you prefer to be alone time. You may find that as the kids grow older and leave home you will have more enthusiasm for people events.
As an intorvert I go to church functions when I think (or my husband thinks!)they are important relationship and/or gospel wise. Often have to force myself to go as I'd much rather stay home!