Saturday, August 27, 2011

Introvert Saturday: An Introvert with a Newborn

A couple of weeks ago, Rachel Stephan Simko wrote a post on doing college campus ministry as an introvert. Today her post goes even closer to her heart, as she reflects on her life as a mom to a newborn. Rachel is a former-actress-turned-campus-minister who works with her husband for the Coalition for Christian Outreach She, her husband, and their 8-week-old live in intentional community right outside Philadelphia with another young family. She writes about their experiences at Even One Sparrow and about campus ministry at 15 Minutes of Campus.

Also, if you haven't read the posts from Introverted Parenting week yet, or the post from Cynthia on mothering as an introvert, I highly recommend them. This is a topic that people are clamoring to talk about!
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Two months ago, I became a mommy.

My daughter has lived up to the newborn stereotype: she sleeps most of the day away, is somewhat nocturnal, and oozes adorableness. I myself have lived up to the new-mom stereotype: I worry too much, cry at the drop of a hat, and spend most of the day in bed.

And I've decided that, all-in-all, maternity leave is the golden ticket for introverted mothers.

However, I was recently convicted by a poignant post written by Jed Brewer at Relevant Magazine. In The Missions Field of Suburbs, Brewer cautions against the delusion of being called to complacency in the suburbs. Although God places people in all sorts of places -- suburbs (and maternity leave) included -- it is not a free ride to sit back and rest easy. Brewer writes, "If you're in a physically comfortable environment, you'll want to get on your knees twice as often and ask the Lord, 'Jesus, what exactly are you asking me to do here?'

So that's what I'm asking God right now: "Jesus, what exactly are you asking me to do here?"

Because, let's face it, I could easily while away the hours napping and nursing, checking my Facebook page hundreds of times each day, and researching all known facts about newborns. But is that what I should be doing?

It's obvious I won't be scrambling to find the nearest mommy-and-me playgroup. And although I actually live in community with another young family, it takes a lot of effort to interact with people all day, especially while I'm still in recovery. So when I am holed away alone in my room, I want to know how I can serve the Lord -- how I can advance the Kingdom -- while remaining emotionally intact.

In our community, we have a couple of guiding scriptures on which we have laid our foundations. One such scripture is Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

"These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."

As I seek the Lord day-in-and-out for specific ways I can serve him, he has reminded me of this passage. I have been given an enormous gift, but it is also an immense responsibility. My quiet "alone" time with the Lord is now shared with a small person of barely eight pounds. Instead of reading the Bible, I now read the Bible out-loud to curious newborn eyes. Instead of praying internally, we pray together. My spiritual journey is no longer just my own.

And it's kind of ironic, isn't it? -- that a person who has spent so much of her life locked away in confined rooms, quietly reading and writing and reflecting in her own brain -- a person who gains energy from being absolutely alone -- is now never alone. Now the most personal thing -- a walk with the Lord -- is moment-by-moment shared with another human being.

So this is where I will start my ministry: with her. And as I slowly recover and as she slowly grows older, I will take it day by day -- beginning each day behind a door, steeped in the Lord's presence, and asking: "What exactly are you asking me to do here -- today?"