Merry Christmas from an Introvert

OK, I’ve had it.  In the last three days I’ve been to a Women’s Christmas luncheon, a church fellowship lunch, the meeting of my accountability group, a big family Christmas party,  dinner with some friends and a visiting missionary couple, followed by a presentation about their ministry in Brazil which was hosted at our congregation and included (because after all we’re Lutherans) snacks and coffee.  This is way too much social interaction  for the average introvert.  I’m exhausted.  Is this what being “merry” is all about?

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These days “Merry Christmas” evokes images of parties and gift exchanges, games and singing, eating and drinking.  Do you know that originally “merry” had a very different connotation?  In earlier times, merry meant contented, peaceful, glad — as in God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (if you think the gentlemen were merry, you’re ignoring the comma or placing it incorrectly).  This well known carol is about taking comfort in knowing that the birth of Christ released us from the bondage of sin and saved us from the punishment we deserved.  We could rest (remain) merry (happy and satisfied) in our new status as saved children of God.  How great is that?  Isn’t it more meaningful than all the parties and presents in the world?

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not Scrooge.  I love my church and my family.  I enjoy good fellowship with friends. Food and fun?  I’m all for that in moderation.  I’m just asking, as an introvert, could we please turn it down a notch?  Could we leave some space to meditate on the true gift we’ve been given?  Could we keep the main thing (worshipping our great God), the main thing?

I wish all our readers a Merry Christmas, in the true meaning of the word.

The Gift of ????

I had to chuckle when I read Leslie’s post about the gift of gab ….that is so not my gift, although it’s one I admire and sometimes wish I had.  I’m a quiet introvert, so I guess my gift is …. holding my tongue?  …..listening? ….silence?  What would be the opposite of gab?

My gift can get me in trouble, too.  Sometimes I don’t speak up when I should.  Sometimes people misperceive me as snobby or aloof or unfriendly.   Sometimes I think of just the right words of sympathy or encouragement …just a little too late.

It’s easy to envy somebody else’s gift, but it’s a bad way to spend my time.  Isn’t it better to give thanks for the wide variety of talents and personalities God has created?  When we get together with someone who has different abilities than we do, great things happen.  We complement each other.  We balance things out.  We can accomplish things together that we couldn’t do alone.  God planned it that way.

“But, as it is, God arranged the members of the body, each one of them, as he chose.  If all were one member, where would be body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”  1 Corinthians 12: 18-20

Let’s Get Personal

I believe that once we become a Christian, and start trying to follow God’s will, He will gradually change us into the person He created us to be (in Lutheran speak, that’s sanctification).  That doesn’t mean our whole personality will do an about face.  It doesn’t mean we’ll be transformed into saints.  It does mean we’ll be more like Jesus, and more gifted, more joyful, more full of life, more peaceful with ourselves and others.

In my own case, the biggest thing God frees me from (I say frees because it still has to happen daily) is fear.  If I were asked to choose one word to describe myself, especially years ago, it would be shy, maybe even timid.  Social situations were not pleasant, but stressful.  I was afraid people wouldn’t like me, that they would discover what a fraud I was, or that I would make a stupid mistake.  Of course, that kept me from trying all kinds of things or taking risks of any kind … who knew what might happen?  It’s not a great way to live.

Becoming a serious Christian helped me to move outside of my comfort zone.  I’m still a quiet introvert (nothing wrong with that, it’s how God made me!) but I have taught Sunday School (children and adults), led workshops and retreats, given talks to groups, organized committees and more. I can use the gifts God gave me in my own way.  I’m not tooting my own horn, just telling you what God can do, because I would NEVER, EVER have done those things without Him.

Am I still afraid?  All the time.  My husband says if there isn’t something to worry about, I’ll invent it.  However, I don’t have to let my anxiety control me. I can step out in faith and take a risk.  A friend of mine once said, “there’s no better place to try something new than at church.  If you fail, they’ll still love you.”  That’s what’s so freeing about being a Christian — you know that no matter what happens, you can never lose the love and Christ.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.”  1 Timothy 1:7

What has God freed you from?  We want to hear from you.