THE PUSH-PULL OF OUR FIRST YEAR of living together [married] was also challenged by balancing Fred’s introversion and my extroversion. Introverts are a careful species, quiet and thoughtful, usually content to be alone. While I learned when he needed his own space, he learned when I needed him to listen to me verbalize a problem in order to uncover the solution.
He had to be willing to be social, attend parties, and talk with people at church. I had to be willing to sit contemplatively in Hindu worship and to tiptoe around the house when he chanted.
Fred’s strong introspective nature made him a prime monastic and priest. His gifts of reflection, intuition, and insight were stronger than anyone I’d ever met. But they took getting used to. Through many mistakes, I uncovered what made him comfortable and uncomfortable. At the conclusion of the first year of marriage, I received the highest praise an introvert could offer.
“Being with you is like being by myself,” he mumbled one Saturday morning over oatmeal.
“Whaaat?” I asked, hurt.
“When I’m with you, I feel as good as when I’m by myself.”
Was this a trick? A clever, backhanded compliment? I couldn’t process the meaning of his words internally, so I had to talk it through aloud.
“So you’re saying that being with me is like being by yourself? But, you love being by yourself, right? So actually, being around me is a good thing?”
“Exactly,” he replied as he sipped coffee from his favorite green mug.
“You’re giving me a compliment?”
“Yes,” he sighed.
“Oh. OK. Well, then … thank you.”
This was one of the nicest things my introverted husband could say to me, and I nearly missed it. If having me around was that comfortable, then married life was suiting Fred.
A year in, I found myself creeping toward introversion too. I became more timid in spaces that held large groups and a lot of talking. I learned to quiet my voice of interruption and rebuttal. I learned to listen to others. I learned to listen to God.
– J. Dana Trent
From pages 81-82 of Saffron Cross: The Unlikely Story of How a Christian Minister Married a Hindu Mok by J. Dana Trent. Copyright © 2013 by J. Dana Trent. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Fresh Air Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Share your thoughts.
O LORD, you have searched me and known me.
Psalm 139:1, NRSV
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This week we remember: Emily Balch (January 9).
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
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