Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving: Meals that change your life

I thought I would move this post up to the top, since my article touches on Thanksgiving and centers on an unforgettable meal I ate 15 years ago.  The article has made its way to the "most read" articles at RELEVANT Magazine online. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Meals that Change Your Life - by Adam McHugh. RELEVANT Magazine

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Most Extroverted Time of Year

Do you hear what I hear?  It's the holiday season, calling for all your energy and free time.  It's your relatives, whom you love, asking for your attention. It's your friends and co-workers, inviting you to myriads of parties and get-togethers. To borrow a line from Sophia Dembling, it's the most extroverted time of the year.

This post is an Introverted Church tradition, four year running.  There is much I love about the holiday season - the chill in the air, the music, the lights, the food, the people - but it's exhausting for me and sometimes difficult for my spiritual life.  

First, to remind you that there will be rest in your future, January 2nd is Happy Introverts Day.

Second, the Introverts Corner has a new post with some survival strategies: The Most Extroverted Time of the Year - Psychology Today

Third, some of my suggestions for navigating the season:

1. Take time for your inner life.  The holiday season in the US is notoriously outward focused, which may be one of the reasons a lot of people lament the loss of meaning.  I find Advent liturgies, candles, and the prophecies foretelling the advent of the Messiah, and the birth narratives of Jesus, to be particularly poignant.  Take time to read, pray, and reflect.

2. Learn how to say "no."  Some of us are naturally "yes" people - our default response when given an invitation - but that can be particularly damaging to us when the invitations are furious and constant.  When we learn how to say no we say yes to God who created us as introverts and to our true selves.  I usually say "no" to parties that are loaded with strangers, unless I have a real purpose for being there. When my closest friends call, though, I'm there. 

3. When you attend a party, find one or two people that you know or want to know, and see if you can engage them in conversation.  Listen.  Ask questions.  Try to concentrate your energies there instead of being distracted by all the other action in the room (I read recently that introverts actually take in too much of their environment, whereas extroverts let most of it wash over them). 

4. When you need a break, try one or more of these ideas: Peruse a person's bookshelf. Take a walk outside. Wander the house like you're just taking a tour. Hang out in the bathroom for a while.  Sit on the side and watch.

Next week I will post an article I've written on Advent for introverts.  Until then, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Friday, November 12, 2010


I'm writing an article this week about hospitality, that centers around an experience I had of receiving radical hospitality a few years ago.  Hospitality is an important theme and quality in the scriptures.  I have even heard one theologian say that the story of the scriptures is God extending hospitality to us and us learning how to receive it and extend it to others.

One of the things I say in Introverts in the Church is that introverts have a tendency to treat their homes as their sanctuaries, as a place of respite from a tiring world.  And that's not a bad thing.  But it does make me wonder how introverts can extend welcome to other people. Obviously, there is much more to it than just allowing people into our homes, and we can practice hospitality in many different settings and on many different ways.  Listening, for example, is a profound act of hospitality.

What do you think?  How do you practice the welcome of Christ to others?  Do you enjoy opening your homes to others?  How are you growing in becoming a more hospitable person?

If for no other reason, I think this is an important topic to consider because the holidays are only a couple of weeks away!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Philip Yancey

Here's a short interview with Philip Yancey, author of several bestselling books including What's So Amazing about Grace? and his new one What Good is God?

He talks about being an "extreme introvert" but says that far harder than the public speaking role are the "30 second conversations with strangers."

Also, he has awesome hair.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Speaking Freely

How ironic is this?  I went to an event called "Permission to Speak Freely" last night.  No one else seems to find that as funny as I do. 

It was an evening with my friends Anne Jackson, author of Permission to Speak Freely, and Susan Isaacs, author of Angry Conversations with God, and also musician I'm not acquainted with named Solveig.  It brings up again the issue of "sharing" that we have addressed on this blog- a sharing which is both freeing and terrifying.  Many introverts I know are turned off by the expectations that some churches have that you will share the details of your life with others, especially those you don't know.  And I appreciate and emphasize with that, but I also get concerned that the resistance to sharing things with people is a result of fear or past bad experiences, not a natural personality trait. 

Now, who you choose to share with is the critical issue.  There has to be a level of trust present before most people will feel comfortable opening up their lives.  But I was reminded again that even the most introverted person needs one or two people in their lives who they can be truly vulnerable with. Hearing someone else say "me too" when we confess something really difficult is one of the most powerful and freeing experiences that we can have.

What are your thoughts about "sharing" in churches?  What are bad examples you have seen?  What are good examples you have experienced?