I’ve been in a handful of conversations lately with close girlfriends about personality types. Introverts, specifically. And all the nuances that define them.
I’ve always been on the side of introversion – growing up, it was masked as shyness. When I was five, if someone asked me a question, my twin sister answered for me. However, in large groups, the walls come down and you can’t stop me from chatting your ear off.
I’ve realized in the last eight months since experiencing great loss, that I’ve become more introverted. Overwhelmed by small talk. Choosing to stay home even more than usual.
This morning, after eight days straight of nonstop social stimulation, I was breathing deeply. In my bed. With my coffee. And the silence of our house my only company. It was glorious. And I was hiding. I had been trying all week to shut out the world. Anxiety has been high. Sleep restless.
And then I read this quote:
When you really want to disappear – is when you really want to be found. When you really want to run away from everybody – is when you really want to be found by just Somebody.
– Ann Voskamp
As a friend and I talked over coffee yesterday morning, she allowed me to verbally process it all. And she cautioned me to not allow the need to hide affect my fellowship. Because it was. The anxiety of my own expectations was suffocating me. And when I disappeared into my cocoon, I was just… sitting there. Alone. Breathing. But not getting anywhere.
I began reading the Psalms:
… hide me under the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 17:8)
… He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle, He shall hide me. (Psalm 27:5)
… You shall hide them in the secret places of Your presence. (Psalm 31:20)
… You are my hiding place. (Psalm 32:7)
… You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your Word. (Psalm 119:114)
As I sat there, looking over the chicken scratches on the pages of my journal, I was aware that the words were written by a man literally hiding for fear of his life. And the conviction twisted inside me. I was perched in my perfectly comfortable bed. Birds chirping through the open windows. Healthy. Loved. Safe. I have no dire emergency. And yet… still feel the need to hide. To isolate myself. To reserve my conversation and my company because it overwhelms me. Yesterday morning, I wanted to hide and was unable to. Which resulted in an argument with my husband. I called it introversion. He called it selfishness. This morning, as I fought to right the imbalance of it all, I knew he was right.
It’s so easy to excuse away selfishness with personality. Habits with genes. Sin with nature. I want to hide because I don’t want to give out. I don’t want to give out because I have nothing left to give. It’s been eight months since the end of the most difficult 18 months of my life. And I still feel spent. But I don’t want to find myself in the same place empty in another 12 months. At some point, I have to choose to turn the corner. To find a way to pour out again.
LORD, I recognize that I need time to recharge and refresh. But help me to remember when I need to hide… that I need to hide in YOU. Change that phrase in my brain. Help me to recognize the impulse to hide as the need to lose myself under the shadow of Your wings… in the secret place of Your presence… in Your pavilion, the secret place of Your tabernacle. YOU are my hiding place. Not my bed. And when I hide myself in YOU, scripture proves that You will:
… cover me with Your hand and show me your glory. (Exodus 33)
… cover me with Your feathers and give me Your strength. (Psalm 91)
… cover my multitude of sins (selfishness included). (Psalm 32:1, 85:2)
Last week I was reading Matthew 26 and was struck anew by Mary who “came to Jesus having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.” (Matthew 26:7) “Such was the form in which Mary’s love to Christ, at so much cost to herself, poured itself out.” (source)
LORD… how does my love pour itself out to You?
I picked up my old journal and began reading, picking up where I left off with Beauty for Ashes, and immediately read these words:
And it shall come to pass that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophecy; your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions… (Joel 2:28)
And I began to see the dance. Slow. Slow. Quick quick.
Pouring my love to You in whatever way I can… and, in return, You pour out Your Spirit onto me.
I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and flood on the dry ground. I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring. (Isaiah 44:3)
The book of Leviticus describes the rules and rituals of the temple. Pouring out the blood of sacrifices. Pouring out oil. All throughout the Old Testament, we see people pouring things out in obedience.
And when we begin loving Him without measure, He does the same.
I pour out my love in ministry and service. Mary pours out her costly perfume in love and obedience. He pours out His blood on the cross in mercy and grace.
Slow. Slow. Quick quick. Slow.
Why am I so slow to understand that when I feel depleted, and have nothing left to give, He’s quick to fill me up again?
I pour out my heart (Psalm 62:8) – He pours out living water on my thirsty soul (Isaiah 44:3).
I pour out my resources – He pours out His blessings. (Malachi 3:10)
I pour out my faith – He pours out His Spirit. (Joel 2:28)
In the constant pouring out, He continually refills. And when I take the time to not just hide, but intentionally hide myself away in His holiness, I always seem to walk away with my cup running over. When I take the time to sit down with Him in the midst of the battle for isolation, He anoints my head with oil. (Psalm 23:5). And not just any oil.
Thank You Lord that you are quick to refill when I’m slow to pour out. Thank You that You are my hiding place. Thank you for pouring out Your blood. And pouring out Your Spirit. Thank You for loving me.