By Debbie McDaniel, Crosswalk.com
Ahh, the holidays, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
But often in the holiday craze of shopping, parties, and festivities, there’s many people who simply long for more solitude than yet another crowd or holiday gathering.
Extroverts thrive on time with people and activity, it’s when they get recharged, renewed. Yet for introverts, it’s usually just the opposite. They’re better refueled with time alone, much needed solitude, in order to function at their best.
Christmas is a gift and time for celebration for us all. It’s the season that we, as believers, all around this world, remember and honor the birth of Christ our King. And yet, maybe our culture, with all of its busyness, madness, and craze, has turned the holidays into more of an “extroverted” season, which can leave others feeling drained, dry, completely wiped out before Christmas day even arrives.
According to research studies, one-third up to even one-half of our nation’s population considers themselves introverts. That’s a lot of people. And yet, our culture seems to place more value or expectation on people to be extroverted. Many are left feeling like they are “less than,” if not more like the “joyful, merry, life of the party” type of person. Or like there’s something wrong with them if they just need some extra time to think, refuel, or be alone. Others confess, due to their jobs, ministry, and workplace requirements, they have learned to be more extroverted simply out of necessity, like an “introverted extrovert.” But it still doesn’t change who one is deep inside. There’s still that inner need to be refreshed, in the way that God’s uniquely designed within us all. The better we can accept and understand ourselves, the better we can share our lives with those around us.
Don’t simply hold on tight and just do your best to survive through it all.
Live in the freedom of who you are, during the holidays, and in all seasons of life.
10 Tips for Introverts to Thrive During the Holidays:
1. Embrace the fact that God has designed you to be uniquely you. Not someone else. He is the One who gave you the gift of being an introvert. See it as a gift, not as a burden, or some character weakness you need to change to be more like so and so. There is great power in this trait. Start noticing how it has helped you in life, and given you the ability to listen well, to take more interest and time for one on one relationships and conversations, to look more deeply at situations, and notice those around you with keen awareness. We all need each other in this life. And God gives each one of us just the right temperament for His purposes to be fulfilled most greatly and powerfully through our lives.
2. Recognize your need for time alone. And don’t feel bad about it. Don’t make excuses for who you are and try to be someone you’re really not. It’s draining and wearying. If you need more time alone, it’s a simple fact, not a weakness or flaw.
3. Don’t feel the need to say yes to every social gathering and holiday invitation. Choose wisely. Choose well. Make sure you plan for times to recharge, instead of booking your family calendar to the hilt, with no time off for quiet evenings at home.
4. Remember that often the most memorable Christmas moments are found in the small, simple times. Bigger is not necessarily better. More expensive and grand is not necessarily most memorable. Jesus Himself, in the greatest reflection of that very truth. He came to this earth, not born in luxury and festive celebration, but in a simple manger, one dark night. With no big earthly audience except his parents, some cows and sheep, and shepherds who came running to see. Find celebration in the small, quiet, simple moments.
5. Find unique ways to do your Christmas shopping. Look for the times and ways that wouldn’t be as stressful to you. Crowds may make you crazy. Holiday traffic can leave any of us frustrated and on edge. Shop online. Or get out early, or later at night, when the crowds aren’t as big. Plan to go with a friend, who you can enjoy some one on one time with while you’re out.
6. Before the party, event, or family celebration, have a plan in advance. Ask God to direct your steps, and help you reach out to someone else who may be struggling. Think of some things ahead of time, that you might like to ask, conversations starters or questions for a friend or co-worker. It may sound crazy to those for whom words seem to flow easily, but for others who feel uneasy in the social mix, it’s strengthening to already have some words prepared.
7. Offer to help your host serve, look for something to do. Sometimes it just helps to have a job, even it seems small, to give something to focus on or be busy with. Offer to help, in the kitchen, getting drinks or food out, setting up, whatever it might be. Often just helping someone else, takes the focus off of ourselves and how “we’re” feeling, instead putting all that energy into something more productive and fun.
8. Know when it’s time to leave. Ask God for wisdom. And then, just do it. Even if it’s earlier than what others think you should. Don’t feel guilty or make excuses. Just thank your host, and go home when you need to. Or, if visiting family out of town or while at a gathering for a longer period of time, find moments while there just to refuel. Take some time to step outside, take a walk, take a nap, play a game, offer to drive others to go see a movie, engage in one on one conversation with someone, anything that can refresh and recharge your need for time alone.
9. Look for those who seem lonely. Reach out to others who need help. Introverts often have that keen eye, listening ear, and incredible discernment about the needs and feelings of others. Look for that person at church who seems all alone. Notice the one at the party who might be struggling. Think about those who have suffered recent losses and hardships this year, who may just need someone to visit or call them. Stop for the homeless person. Give to that family who is facing hardship. Reach out. Notice those God sends across your path.
10. More than anything else this season, spend time alone with God. Reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and gift of Christ’s birth. Read His Word. Worship. Pray. Sing. Join with other believers to celebrate our King. This is most crucial for us all, introverts and extroverts alike. Without Christ, nothing else matters in this season, or in life.
He alone is the One able to refresh, recharge, and renew our spirits. He knows us. He designed us. He made us for His purposes. He breathes life into our weary souls, and gives joy to our days.
His greatest commandment summed up from Matt. 22: 36-40: “Love God, love others.”
That’s really at the heart of it all.
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page, DebbieWebbMcDaniel, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives.
Find her also at Twitter.
Publication date: December 9, 2015