A few weeks ago, a cartoon was making its way around Facebook. The cartoon walks through life as an introvert. (If you want to see the cartoon, click here, but please note that I have not explored the rest of this site for content.)
The cartoon does a phenomenal job of explaining introverts, but one aspect of the explanation was particularly interesting to me. It discussed the differences between how introverts and extroverts are energized. I had never quite thought through that concept before.
About this same time, I was dealing with something emotional. I couldn’t really put my finger on what I felt, but I kept trying to identify it.
Anxiety. Edginess. Irritability. Nervousness. That “something is just about to happen” feeling. Or something needing to be done. Or maybe restless energy…that’s it!!
It struck me like a flash of lightning. Restless energy.
Our entire summer had been busy, busy, busy up to that point, and it wasn’t about to stop. We constantly had something going on. But, the interesting thing was that our activity was very withdrawn. I didn’t really have to be around people to accomplish the things before me. My tasks benefited people. In odd ways, they even ministered to people. But, it was all behind-the-scenes kind of stuff.
In light of that, we had worked hard to protect our social calendar through the summer. Being a predominantly introverted family, we don’t do well with a great deal of people time when we’re busy. So, we knew we needed to protect our energy because of the busy schedule. Or so we thought.
It suddenly struck me that maybe I’d been wrong about that. You see, as an introvert, I am energized by the behind-the-scenes, non-social tasks I get to do. They fuel me. They motivate me. They, well, energize me.
But, I’ve never really stopped to contemplate what they energize me to do! Nor have I considered what happens if I let that energy build up too much. In all honesty, building it up too much rarely happens because our family exists in a socially-centered ministry. But occasionally we have situations like this summer when we intentionally protect our energy-building times. And when we do, the energy builds…and builds…and builds.
Even the most extreme introverts needs to utilize that energy. I would say the same is true of extroverts, although it looks very different for them.
I get so caught up in the concept of building up my energy by withdrawing that I rarely think about intentionally expending that energy. As I ponder this concept for the first time, I feel like a young child being introduced to money. I don’t know how much certain social interactions cost or how much withdrawal time I need to make sure my bank account can handle the deduction. I don’t know how to budget my energy. I have not really paid specific attention to the good and bad places to spend my energy.
I also have not learned to how to handle going into debt. And yes, I think there are some times when energy debt is worthwhile. An introvert cannot truly go on a ten-day mission trip without going into debt. It’s just not possible. So, how do we handle that debt? Where does the loan come from? And what does it take to both get back to even and build up more for the next expenditure?
Looking back, I can see how many times I have wasted the energy God has allowed me to build up in times of withdrawal. I have squandered the balance of my energy account rather than focusing it on useful interaction. When I waste my energy, I’m never fulfilled. I want to change that!
I’m ready to become a good steward of my energy account. God allows us all, whether introverts or extroverts, to fill up our account. But it’s not just for our own pleasure. It’s for His glory, honor, and purposes. Will we use our energy wisely, or will we build it up only to squander it? May we pay attention and be good stewards of our accounts! And may we find extreme joy and fulfillment as we use our energy for His glory!