Pat's Praise: Out of Sync, Out of Step

Pat Throckmorton

The music is deafening, jarring, loud, and long. I tried to withdraw into myself but failed. I wanted to exit the room but did not want all eyes on me, so I sat there, miserable, shallow breathing, waiting for it to end.

On my lap is my day-planner, on which I could barely focus. I doodled, drew stick-men, flower petals, made notes. The performer explained later that it was a trilogy of sorts but that he embellished it significantly.

The sound system screeched and squawked as the speaker turned up his microphone. That, too, is much too loud. I feel like I am drowning in a sea of noise.

It was Sunday morning as I sat in the pew of the church to worship. Needless to say, I was not having a very spiritual moment. I looked around and could see others enjoying the flashy music.

What was wrong with me? Then came the dreaded “Meet and Greet” or “Passing of the Peace.” I imagined that I looked like clothing that had been shrink-wrapped as I went through the motions of greeting everyone. Previously, I tried the church ladies’ group, who, by the way, was quite busy with a multitude of plans of their own. That was a bust. It occurred to me that it was me – I was the issue.

Shy, I am not. Shyness can mean being self-conscious, nervous, timid, or insecure. I am none of those. Neither am I anti-social, even though my children tell me I am selectively anti-social; I do not refuse to socialize. I don’t feel the need to socialize. There, I said it. I am an introvert!

That is why I feel so out of place in the church. As an introvert, I am affected by external stimulation like loud music and crowds. I can’t hear God’s voice and feel His pain when distracted by all the pomp and circumstance. I need a quiet place, just the Lord and me.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 KJV

My quiet place is in my study in the early morning hours before my husband awakens. (Those who know Keith appreciates the fact that there is NO quiet time when he is around.)

There, in welcomed solitude, I can pray, meditate, weep, read His Word entirely focused. Tending our chickens or in our garden is also a time of worship for me. It is here that God shows me my sins, gives me encouragement, guidance, and His love.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV.

Set your mind on God. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV. “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him.” Lamentations 3:25-28 NIV.

Whereas crowds, noise, and activity energize extroverts, introverts are invigorated by quiet and seclusion. That is the way of introverts like myself. We recharge from the inside out, from our internal ideas and feelings. Filled privately or with one or two of those closest to us are our energy tanks.

The same holds with long social events. I become easily bored and want to bail out as soon as possible. Neither am I a fan of small talk; it always seems utterly cliched. You know, being introverted isn’t a bad thing.

We think things through, maybe even to the point of over-analyzing, but we are self-sufficient, observant, and committed. Our God loves diversity in language, appearance, personalities. Who would want to live in a world of only extroverts or only introverts?

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 NIV.

Jesus needed quiet time with the Lord. “Yet the news about him spread all the more so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 5:15-16 NIV.

St. Mark tells us this (1:35-37 NIV), “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

My feeling is this. If I am not spending time with God, He will make way for me to spend time with Him. I look forward to my spiritual moments alone with my Savior. My journey continues.

I am at peace with my idiosyncrasies and contented I am with myself.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at mlayton@ncweeklies.com