Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

An introvert thinks about friendship

When the folks at Tabletalk asked if I’d write an article about women and friendship, I was honored and agreed.

Then I panicked. On the introvert-extrovert spectrum, I’m way over toward the introvert end. That means I’m more energized by being alone than by being with people. What in the world could I say about friendship that could be helpful to anyone?

With the hope that I’m not the only introvert in the world, I submitted an article that was published in the July issue of Tabletalk. My story was posted on their blog.

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19 Responses to “An introvert thinks about friendship”

  1. I’m an introvert. I read your article…and I appreciated it. Building relationships and serving in the church can be hard if you’re hardwired like us! So thanks for sharing.

  2. I so appreciated your transparency in writing that article. I, literally, read it and wept! I was so encouraged to know that there is hope for me. I, too, am such an introvert [love being alone], but I see the Lord showing me, more and more, just how much I need others to help me along the way.
    Thank you, Noel Piper, for being you–real, open, and honest!

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this article. And I’m actually an extrovert! :)
    I brought it to share with some of the women at my church and everyone could relate. Your honesty and the truth you spoke touched many.
    Thank you so much.

  4. I read your article when it was linked on your husband’s blog. Unlike the others who commented, I’m definitely an extrovert. It was helpful to me, however, as someone whose dearest friend is an introvert. We have been quite the unlikely pair over the years, and I’ve often wondered if our friendship could stand these huge differences. But we have persevered, for which I’m glad.
    Reading your article did help me understand her a bit more– she’s not quite as articulate about it as you are. I wondered if you might be able to speak a bit more about this topic– how you would recommend someone be a good friend to someone who is introverted. I struggle all the time with knowing when to push and when to give her space. Personally, I also find it hard not to have my feelings hurt when she wants time alone and I want to fellowship. Would you be able to share any advice about how your friends have approached you, or how you wish they would?
    Thanks so much for your honesty and your sweet blog. :-)

    • Dear Anna,
      I believe I am facing the same drama. I have a very dear friend to me that I have known for years and specially since last year we became closer. I treasure her friendship a lot but I am a “people person” and she is a typical case of introvert. At the begining it was really hard for me to understand her (and I am still trying too). I often get upset and hurt by things she doesn’t say or doesn’t do. As an extrovert I appreciate when people open up to me. With her is the opposite. We can stand together for minutes without saying a word (which is very awkward to me). I am the one who always has to do the first move although she is always receptive to my invitations. It drives me crazy when sometimes she is happy to see me but after a while she seems like she wants me to go away. I often feel that I am bothering her (and this makes me very sad). At the same time I’ve seen a lot of progress as I noticed that she doesn’t allow any one to get closer but me. I am very affectionate and expressive. She is the opposite. My wish is that one day she will let me know what she thinks about our friendhsip. To me is very easy to answer that to her or to demonstrate it. But it will be a miracle if she does the same…. Hope you have good luck with your friend too. God bless!

  5. I read your story last week and was amazed… it could have been me writing. Except I’m 31 and beginning to treasure friendships like they deserve now. Thank you for your encouragement. I’m a pastor’s wife, an introvert, and I really relate to your sentiments.

  6. Loved it! I have the same struggle. Thank you.

  7. A very timely article for me. I have heard the Lord’s gentle voice on this topic and was wondering if this could/should be a topic for a woman’s night at our church, but then that would mean the Introverted “me” having to give the TALK!
    Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Noel. I really appreciate it.

  8. I read your post last week and really appreciated it. I am a ministers wife and an introvert. I could relate to a lot that you said, especially wanting to read more than be with people. Thanks for sharing your journey and giving wisdom. It encouraged me to keep on pursuing relationships and not hide out in my shell.

  9. I, too, read your post last week. Not only did I identify with being an introvert, you made me cringe when I saw that by catering to my love of solitude I am actually missing out (and sinning) in regards to relationships with other women. A powerful and painful nudge.

  10. I just read your article this morning and I am so thankful for your openness. I, too, would rather be at home with a book! It is so very hard for me not to present only a shadow of myself to others. My life at 54 is so very different than I thought it would be – many disappointments and heartaches have made me even more wary of close relationships than I already was. I have to present a “I’m a christian and yes, i have it all together” persona which of course is impossible to keep up and have relationships of any depth at all. Your honesty in writing has given me much to think about – thank you!

  11. I cannot thank you enough for your courage in being so honest about your journey. I, too, am a pastor’s wife, introvert and I make sure no one knows the real me. You’ve given me lots to think about…I’m 60…in counseling and made the statement that I’m so discouraged that at my age I still struggle so much with the disappointments in my life. It is an encouragement to know you were willing to tackle life at 60. Perhaps I can, too. ~ Thank you.

  12. So encouraging! Thank you~

  13. Wow!! I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately b/c we had to fill out an application that asked us to describe our personalities. My husband……introvert. I was wondering if “introvert” is bad…or “sin”. I guess I’m still on the fence with this one. I don’t think it’s wrong to have one close friend in my husband. Before I was married I had quite a few friends, but he wasn’t liking how much time I spent with them. Now…19 yrs & 6 kids later he wonders why I don’t have any. Well….I’ve been quite busy, thank-you very much. I want to be alone to read a good book b/c I’m NEVER alone!! It’s refreshing for me. I don’t think it’s being selfish…I think it’s recharging! Maybe in 17 years when our youngest leaves the nest I’ll start looking for friends again….I just don’t have time right now. Is that sin?

  14. As an introvert myself, and the mother of two small children, what would advice could you give me as I wrestle with the intensity of these short years, and my need and desire to have time to myself?

  15. Noel,

    I’ve read this article a few times now. Tears still come as I read. I’ve wanted to write, but haven’t been able too. I praise God for you! Fear encompasses my heart in the area of friendships. I look to man too much to figure out who I am in Christ. When man fails or rejects or abandons or boasts in their own glory and my failures, I have a hard time distinguishing between their voice and God’s – especially when the friends are in the church. I’m not innocent of these sins either – we all are sinful creatures, but I find it extremely difficult to give grace because I haven’t clearly grasped the love of Christ for me. I fail to stand firm upon the rock of Jesus Christ. Repentence is not the language of the day – it is blameshifting and avoidance, it’s revenge and unforgiveness. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, it’s been that way since the fall, but it grieves my heart.

    I try at friendships and fail and run away in fear. That is where Satan wants us – alone. I need to trust in the breaks in relationships. Is God good when He allows the idols of my heart to crash before me? I know that He is, but it doesn’t feel like it. The question is will I trust that He is lovingly beckoning me to Himself or will I believe the plentiful lies that Satan seems to shout at me?

    Christ loves me. I need to receive His discipline knowing that He is gentle even if my friends are not. I need to still myself, listen to His quiet loving voice that sings over me and get up again remembering that they need the same compassion and grace that I do. I write this as a broken woman longing, but failing to stand. I’m in the midst of a run and I praise God for His grace through you to fight this fight of faith. I praise God for your humility and vulnerability. I pray that you are knowing more and more every day the depth of our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray you know how beautiful you are as a woman of God and how much you are loved.

    We younger women do not need perfect role models. We need ones that are humble and willing to show us how to get up when we fall. We fall often and will never acheive perfection, but we need to know that we can trust in a Savior who will love us in our mess. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Your life speaks grace. I pray that God uses this article as a means of grace to encourage many women to pursue friendships and glorify God as we seek to love our sisters again and again demonstrating the impossible without Christ – that the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever. May it be true at Bethlehem and may it be true throughout the world. May we as Christians shout it with our lives. It will be by His strength alone. Let us rest and be filled with His glorious goodness and beauty.

    I praise God for the gift of encouragement that you are! I will read this many times to be reminded and encouraged. May His grace flow abundantly to you and yours.

    With much love in Christ,

  16. Thank you, thank you! I read this, by God’s providence, on a day when after feeling grievous over difficulties I contacted a few friends to pray in seeing that my heart was tempted to self-pity and unbelief. God used this to confirm my need to be open about struggles that I might hear His truth from faithful sisters instead of being worried about what they might think. He is good!

  17. Big stuff for an introvert, Noel! Friendships often seem complex or complicated. Until I read this article I hadn’t thought about how my introversion (which can breed a sort of false Independence) affects my friendship relationship with Christ…
    (Did that sound like a confession?)
    You said, “They have been an appetizer for the feast of Jesus’ friendship.” You said a mouthful there. Scrumptiousness!

  18. Hi Noel,

    Thank you for writing about this topic. All of what you wrote and articulated, I can relate to you. Praise God for the opportunity to share about ourselves with the hope of ‘getting God’. It is a slow process for me as I learn to surrender over my own desire of ‘going at life alone’, but instead of that, trusting in God with the dear christ-like friendships He continually blesses me with. I am greatly encouraged by your blog post. May God bless you with His love, peace, and rest as you live your life for Him.

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