the paradox of solitude
My phone rings and it’s my dear friend from out-of-town whom I love and miss. As I look at the phone, however, something in me sinks because I can’t bear to answer the call. I have just left the office where I love working with both staff and clients, but it still feels impossible to pick up the phone.
As an introvert, I desperately feel the need to recharge by myself. Learning about my own capacity and limitations as an introvert has felt magnified the longer I am a counselor and the longer I am married. I need more time to charge and feel rested in order to engage again. This has felt selfish at times and self-protective at other times. I can even feel ashamed around extroverts, but in order to keep doing what I’m doing, it usually feels wise to have boundaries around space and time.
So when are my boundaries wise and when are they selfish? The difference seems to be about where I place my trust. If I am trusting only in myself, I tend to hoard time and space in order to get energy. Yet if I can acknowledge my need for His spirit, I can see how He can—and will—sustain me with energy, words, and presence even when I feel I can’t. I can trust in His strength and manna each day. Other times, I can trust the Lord to be with that friend when I can’t. Even if a friend or loved one is in need, I have to trust that the Lord has been with them long before me and will be with them long after me. I have to lay down my pride and know that He will love them better than I can. This helps me to enforce my boundaries and acknowledge my needs. It also dethrones me and keeps Him as the King of my heart and of others.
With Him to rule, we introverts can love well by admitting our need for Him to sustain us when we do take the call and by ushering others to Him when we can’t. Thanks be to God!
Mollie Souza is a Counselor for The Barnabas Center. She has her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee where she majored in Spanish as well as her Master of Arts in Christian Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. She is especially passionate about helping individuals who are working through grief, doubts, trauma, relationships, anxiety, depression, self-esteem/identity issues, seasons of loneliness, family of origin issues, and divorce.