Performing The Extrovert

Whenever I forget what personality type I am, I ask A.R. She has an uncanny memory for people’s type, which is good because I always forget whether I’m an N or an S. A.R. is one of my closest friends and happens to be a personality type guru. Not only is she writing about introversion on Primitive Roads today, she’s also guest posting for Kindred Grace about being an ISTJ on October 28th. Don’t miss it!

Performing The Extrovert

I love people’s laughs, people’s genuine laughs. I’m hesitant to say it’s my favorite thing about people, so I’ll just say it’s one of my favorite things. I have a distinct mental image of what each of the people close to me looks like when they laugh. They’re all so different. And all so raw, like little glimpses into parts of us that we don’t consciously make known. It’s an indulgence in a moment that’s like this trifecta of pleasure, relief, and a deepening of friendship.

Laughter

Figuring out what makes people laugh – I love that too. There are things that you will find that the majority find funny. However, people have very individual senses of humor. Something that makes one person laugh can be offensive to the next. Or even beyond them how what was said could be construed as even remotely humorous. Which is funny.

I am an introvert. However, I have often been mistaken for my counterpart, and understandably so. For if I was not me, but rather, a mere observer of myself watching myself act the way I act in groups, I would probably give the same assessment; I am capable of performing the extrovert, and I do so primarily for the sake of two desired outcomes: relational depth and producing the connection that comes from laughter between individuals.

The modern field of psychology has termed that the “free trait theory.” This theory holds that we are born and culturally endowed with certain personality traits, however, we can, and do, act out of character for something that we consider important. And because I deeply value close relationships and laughing, I act out this theory; I perform the extrovert. However, at the end of the day, as much as I perform or at certain times desire to be an extrovert, I’m an introvert. American psychologist Barry Schwartz who is quoted in Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, speaks to this as he says, “our inborn temperaments influence us regardless of the life I lead…our free will will only take me so far.”

Sometimes I feel like my iPhone. I see my energy levels in terms of my phone’s battery. Inevitably, my phone will run out of battery and cease to function. And no amount of battery saving tactics will keep it alive longer. Even if I figuratively close all my apps, dim the brightness and put myself on airplane mode, I have to leave and go recharge, or else I’ll die. At the very least, cease to function.  This is why there are times that I have wished I was an extrovert. There are times where I wish that I got energy from doing what I love. Doing one of the things that I love – spending time alone is a close if not better competitor. And in an attempt to resolve this internal conflict, I have spent much time trying to understand the stimulation that I get from my extroverted self. And I have come to the conclusion that in order to live in a world that goes against my inborn temperament, I must be very intentional about how I situate myself in social environments. There are times when I know that I’m not going to be able to recharge for a longer than ideal amount of time, and in those situations I enter in with a pace yourself mindset.

I’ve been called out on this internal conflict on multiple occasions by those close to me. And having this observance voiced has made me rethink my introverted preferences on more than one occasion, and sit with this dichotomous way of being more than I normally would have. And I have come to the conclusion that in order to get to that level of relational depth and that connection that I deeply long for with others, I must balance the extremities of being a social performer and a borderline recluse. I must fight to become more conscious of my ideal situations of stimulation. Which, even after much analysis, never cease to surprise me and leave me realizing that there are so many parts of myself that I have yet to understand and perhaps, even know.

A.R. HamiltonA.R. Hamilton is almost finished with her second Masters Degree from CSU San Bernardino. When she’s done, she’ll have an MA in Education with a focus in curriculum and instruction and concentration in English and an MA in Composition and Rhetoric.  When she’s not in school, A.R. is mentoring high school girls or learning more about personality types. She blogs at Yours January.

 

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The Power of Prayer

I’m a journaler. There’s a box in our garage that contains a mismatched pile of diaries, notebooks, and journals from junior high forward. Some of them I’m tempted to throw away because they are so very embarrassing, but then I think about what all those words represent, even the humiliating ones. Those words represent a journey, a mind and heart being molded along the primitive roads of life. All the emotions and thoughts, pain and joy found on those pages are part of a process that never really ends.

Aside from the ocasional embarrassment, I truly enjoy rereading my old journals. More often then not, God uses past struggles or epiphanies to encourage me in the present. This happened recently as I was flipping through my current journal.

prayer

February 12th, 2013 (my momma’s birthday!!)

Sometimes I look at the date and just stare, amazed at how quickly the days progress, making November slide right into February.

I have vastly underestimated the power of prayer. I’m very aware that God answers prayer and that it’s a powerful tool to see change and miracles happen. But prayer goes beyond God’s actions. Prayer isn’t about cause and effect. Prayer is about submission and community, intimacy and surrender to the Lord Almighty. Prayer is less about God moving in our circumstances and more about God moving in our hearts. ( <– Tweet this! )

I was just lost in time for a moment, taken back to the year I was living on the Central Coast of California, working as an innkeeper at The Cass House. I was fresh out of college and the job, living situation and location just fell into my lap – absolutely a God thing. 

After acknowledging how He orchestrated my circumstances, I left Him out of my daily life. I mastered life in Cayucos on my own and then became discontent when things didn’t go my way. I didn’t meet the love of my life, community took effort I wasn’t used to giving, and I missed my family. Instead of brining those feelings to God consistently, I let them stew and grow until the aroma dominated all of my senses.

I was still pursuing God and He did great things in my heart during that time, but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had I not been so intent on directing my own life. I fI had been bringing my desires to God, maybe heartbreak would have been easier. If I had sought God for comfort and community, maybe I wouldn’t have felt so isolated. If I had been pursuing God’s plan, maybe I would have had more peace about making tough decisions. 

Being a woman dedicated to sharing her heart with her Abba may not have changed my circumstances – and that’s certainly alright when I reflect on what I did experience – but I would have had a heart yielded to God’s will instead of a striving heart trying to manipulate God’s will.

Prayer puts us in a position to be transformed by God. It may not alter our circumstances, but it will alter our hearts. ( <– Tweet this! )

I generally always need to be reminded not to strive or manipulate, but I really needed to be reminded that prayer does more for our hearts than our circumstances. Prayer binds us to our Heavenly Father and brings peace and comfort. I need that.

photo credit: bingbing via photopin cc

Into Home and Heart

Into Heart and Home

Food is one of my love languages (sorry Gary, I think you missed one…). I love the idea of opening my home to others, welcoming them in with warmth and wafts of goodness baking in the oven. My heart is in everything I cook and bake, especially when I do it for others to enjoy. But, for someone who expresses love through food, I’m not that great about inviting people to break bread with me.

Little pieces of me go into the food I make like another item on the ingredient list. Whether it’s a simple sandwich or a chocolate souffle, I offer myself along with the food I serve. Maybe that’s why I am tentative to ask others to partake. An invitation to dinner is an invitation into my home and my heart.

~~~

What if she doesn’t like mushrooms? What if he prefers corn tortillas? What if my popovers don’t pop? What if I don’t have the table set when they arrive?

The “what ifs” are endless as I consider making an invitation. Since those little pieces of me are in the food, cooking leaves me exposed. I worry because inevitably guests will see my imperfections. If I was able to share a meal with someone without one detail, however small, being off, I would not have been fully present. My efforts would have been more focused on the food instead of the friendships. I am hesitant because their response to my home and food is actually acceptance or rejection of me as a person. An invitation to dinner is an invitation into my brokenness and vulnerability.

~~~

Vulnerability is a key part of community and community comes most naturally to me around the table. I value both highly and have realized that neither of them happen automatically. Vulnerability requires humility and community requires openness. What better way to express these two things than by setting my table and inviting people to share a meal. An invitation to dinner is an invitation to share a part of me along with the meal.

Earlier this year I committed to living a more intentional life – in all ways, but especially in regards to developing community. For me, this looks like having company over more often. It’s stepping outside my comfort zone and serving up some vulnerability with a side of green beans. It’s not worrying about the end result but enjoying the messy process of sharing life with people around the table. It’s inviting people into my home so they can taste and see my heart.

Friend {Five Minute Friday}

Seasons in Friendship

I’m just beginning to understand the multifaceted concept of seasons.

After 26 years, I can see the mini-seasons that have already come and gone in my life. I entered into a new season – marriage – almost a year ago and know there are plenty more ahead. Though I don’t adapt as well as I’d like to the transition between seasons, I am starting to see the beauty and nuances of each one as it molds and shapes my life for a time.

I’d like to say I’ve totally embraced all of the seasons in Idaho, but Winter still challenges me a bit. Fall brings riotous color and crisp air. Winter has freshly fallen snow and Christmas. Spring is glorious with its new growth and blooming trees. Summer is full of sun!

Transitioning from high school to college, back home to on my own, single to married has taught me that friendship is also seasonal. Forever friends do exist. I’m fortunate enough to still be good friends with my grade-school best friend, but that’s not the case for all of my friendships.

I look back over the past 10 years and marvel at the amazing people God has placed in my path. Friendships were formed over coffee, in foreign countries, at the cafeteria table, in Bible studies. Some lasted for years, others only months.

It took me a while to realize that was okay. Each of those people held a ray of hope, love, and joy for me when I needed it most.

Instead of mourning the reasons those friendships have gone dormant, I see the beauty of each season, the special purpose of each relationship. Friends should be cherished with open hands and a heart willing to see them change with the seasons.

~~~

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday

A Spiritual Third Place?

Cafe

My brother worked for the Big Green Machine (Star-biz-ucks or just The Bucks in our family’s vernacular) for years.  We would laugh at the lengths to which Starbucks would go to create the perfect coffee shop environment.  Tim (yes, brother and hubs have the same name) is by no means a corporate kind of guy so he found the “third place” concept a bit eye-rolling.

Starbucks’ goal was to be the place people went when they weren’t at home or at work, the place people chose to meet and hang out, the place you felt most comfortable. His vehemence at the third place protocol was definitely amusing and I, too, rolled my eyes at the effort Starbucks put in to being people’s home away from home.

Then I began to travel and realized just how comforting a little slice of familiarity can be when you’re in a different state or a different country. In a sea of quaint English tea shops or Italian cafes, sometimes you just need a green mermaid on your to-go cup.

I was working in Massachusetts this past week and after a few days alone in a new city, eating PB&J made in my hotel room, I yearned for a sense of home.  I let my iPhone lead me to the nearest Starbucks. The familiar scent of freshly ground coffee struck me the minute I pushed through the doors.  Computer open, Vanilla Spice Latte in hand, I was less aware of being 2,700 miles from home.

Starbucks isn’t my third place because I’m some sort of coffee snob, it’s mostly because I’ve built memories around being in a Starbucks.

Isn’t that what comfort derives from? Familiarity. Good memories. A sense of reassurance.

My Spiritual Third Place

As I was reflecting on my third place experience from the past week, I realized Starbucks wasn’t the only thing I turned to for comfort when I felt out of place.

God is a consistent presence in my life and has been a very real source of peace as I’ve traveled the globe.  On a train, in a plane, or in a lonely hotel room, I find deep comfort and reassurance from reading Scripture.

The Psalms are my spiritual third place. Within the Psalms, I am reminded of God’s faithfulness to me and generations before me. Those memories make my heart feel at home.

My emotions find companionship in the Psalmists who let their songs flow with honesty and intensity. Whether born out of fear, joy, strife, or praise, the Psalms are melodies made of very human feelings. They are feelings I can relate to and the very fact that the words are there, printed in my Bible, draw me closer into God’s arms.

So, when I am slipping between the sheets of a strange bed, wishing the vast space to my left wasn’t empty, I can read a Psalm and know that I’m not alone.

Where is your third place?

A spiritual third place has been more important in my life than a physical third place.

Do you have one a spiritual third place? What about our Lord makes you feel at home?