Sunday, February 19, 2006

Introversion and the Pastor's Wife

I just heard the chimes ring from church. Obviously, I am not there.

I have never been a "good pastor's wife." It is probably the only aspect of my marriage that causes me anxiety. Some people think that I am anti-social. I'm not. I like people. I'm just shy.
More accurately, I'm introverted.

Let me define my terms:

Extrovert: Someone who derives energy from being with people. They feel depleted after extended periods of being alone. Enjoys being in groups of people. Have lots of casual acquaintances, friends

Introvert: Someone who feels depleted after being with people. Usually needs time to be alone in order to re-energize. Feels more lonely in a crowd than when alone. Usually has a few close friends.

In our country, extroversion is valued, and over 70% of people are more extroverted than introverted.

It is different from being anti-social. introverts usually just do better with social interactions when they are on comfortable ground, with a purpose. But even with that, they still need a break afterward. I have no problem with being a La Leche League Leader, going to a class, being a part of a knitting circle, working, etc. but I need down time afterward. The social occasion has a purpose. Parties, picnics, and even casual phone calls are another story. Most people who know me from online are surprised that I describe myself as an introvert. But the communication usually has a purpose, and I can communicate at a time where it is on my terms, and I can repeatedly edit what I say before I "say it."

Church most definitely has a purpose. I go to be fed with the Word and Sacrament. I go to be one in the Body of Christ with fellow believers. And that is usually where my attention is as well.
There are days, like today, though, where I lose that focus, and church becomes about everything else: taking with people whom I don't know very well; realizing that the whole church sees when my 3 y.o. daughter decides to use the kneeler as a balance beam or announce loudly that something "tastes like chicken (her favorite joke)"; that before and after church I have to walk through a sea of people who for some reason take a greater interest in my kids, my work, my fertility, my hair, my weight, and whether I keep rabbits in my basement...than they do about the person sitting next to them or in front of them or who lives next door to them.

And then there are days where it simply is that I am just not up to contending with a tired two year old who can't handle social interaction before noon, or an active three year old who thinks that a kneeler SHOULD be a balance beam, despite several months of reprimands, time outs, and even a few swats that should let her know that it simply is not the least during the service. And what is worse, I face all of that alone. I know my husband prays for me, that his heart is with me, but it still is tangibly different than having him in the pew with me. These are the days when the whole idea of facing another day like that leaves me feeling completely drained and on the verge of tears. These are the days that I stay home.

There are days when I truly believe that when in Heaven, we will partake of the Glorious Feast, and Hell is going to be one giant, overheated potluck. If Purgatory existed, it would be one very long narthex full of people. I simply do not know what to do with myself there, and I do not know what to say. However, put me in a quiet room with two or three of these people at a time, and we'd get along famously.

Today is one of those days. I trust in God's grace to forgive me for my sinfulness, and hopefully relax and enjoy the peace for a short couple of hours, knowing next week is a new Sunday.

weight loss: gained two pounds...dang PMS (total lost 13...still feels dang good)
measurements: -4 chest, -5.5 waist, -4 inches hips


Favorite Apron said...

Oh Lora. You need a vacation. You should go on a cross country Martin Loopers tour and visit all the pastor's wives on the list. Attend church with them and see you are not alone!
I'm home today too, with a horrible head cold. For a month now I've had the flu/colds/and everything else. I think God is punishing me for being smug about how healthy our family is.

Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Well, if a vacation will solve this, then I'd hate to see the length of the vacation. It has been this way since the day we started vicarage...6 weeks after we got married (and my dubiousness about being a pastor's wife started at about the time I met my husband).

I know I'm not alone in regard to the way I feel. I really do. I remember sitting in a sem-wive's class hearing all the resentment about the expectations their future congregations might lay on them.

It's basically a fact of my life. Every 4-6 weeks, I just have to take a day off.....but if you want to go on a road trip with me, I'm up for it!

I hope you feel better soon!

Kelly Klages said...

Wow... you and I are the same person!

Well, I'll be you when I have kids, anyway. I've not been at this pastor's wife thing for very long yet. Thanks for reminding me that *I'm* not alone!

hughesgirl said...
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hughesgirl said...
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joannmski said...

Hi, I am a PW too, and an introvert, and it is tough! There are some days you just don't wanna say boo to anyone. Sometimes I pretend like the kids are starved (OK, they really are starved) and I have to get them home for lunch so I head out fast after church.

BTW I love the look of your blog ;-)