Saturday, November 19, 2011

Introvert Saturday: Grace in the Silence

About the author: Sarah Markley is a mother, a wife, and a believer in radical grace. She is a writer and speaker and lives in Southern California. She is a monthly staff writer for Dayspring's (in)courage and for A Deeper Story and especially loves to shake things up once in a while at People of the Second Chance.
I seem to have good thoughts at 35,000 feet. Even in the midst of absolute exhaustion.

I have flown on three different planes today and aside from the flight attendant who told me I looked like someone in a recent movie (but-I-don’t-know-which-one) I haven’t had a single conversation with one single person.

22C seems like an oasis for me. I’ve made my final connection and I’m actually really truly on my way home. I’m working my way home from a conference where for the past 4 days I’ve been surrounded by 250 other women, some of whom are extroverts and some who are introverts pretending to be extroverts (like me) and with that as a context, I plop down in my seat.

I’m tired. Like really tired.

I’m not tired from my 4am wakeup call (although that and a lack of proper caffeine can have something to do with it). And not even tired from my dashes through both Washington Dulles and Chicago O’Hare because the airline-who-shall-remain-nameless rebooked my flights on a bad weather weekend forty-five minutes apart with no time to use the bathroom, grab the much needed cuppa or even find a suitable meal.

It was from the time I spent with people.

I love people. I do. One of my favorite things in the world, besides cuddling my daughters or sharing a glass of wine with my husband after the girls have gone to bed, is to sit across the Starbucks table from people like you. I love to laugh, to eat dark chocolate and to engage in smart female conversation with the friends of mine who help to rub off my rough edges and make me a better woman. And to be honest, the women I met this last week are among some of the most amazing i have ever met.

However, that defined, people also exhaust me.

And now, as I am in the middle of this once in a lifetime collection of people with stories and families and lives and jobs, and we are all traveling southwest headed for home (at least for me), I am so tired that I don’t want to talk to a single one of them.

Without reservation, despite recent trepidation and not counting the 7-plus minutes it took a friend and me to shove ice and snow off of the windshield of my rental car using only a DVD case and a credit card, I loved every single minute of last week.

But right now I bury my face in my kindle and now monopolize my fingers on the keyboard because I really just need to be alone. I need to focus on the hugs and squeals that will come from my girls and the life that they can give me with their laughter and their drawings and their skinny arms around my neck. I need the life that my husband can offer with his strong arm pulling my suitcase for me as I arrive to my own family in my own car. I need the life that I can only get when I sit in silence.

Home makes me ME again only because I feel as if I have given so much I no longer have anything of my own left. Maybe that makes me weak. Or maybe that makes me honest. I’m not sure.

So I sit, surrounded by people in seats all facing the same way and I have decided to release myself from making conversation to 22B.

I am giving myself the grace to be silent.

Which is also the grace not to always speak up and not to always know what to say. It is the grace to be okay with shutting my mouth and receiving that life that both silence and solitude brings.

We often forget that not only is it okay to be quiet, but sometimes it is right and good. And for me, it might be the only way to find an oasis in a sea of people.

Do people energize you or exhaust you? Do you ever give yourself the grace to be silent?