I recently saw a photo of a woman with a serious face and above the picture read "This is my happy face, my sad face, my mad face, and my excited face." I may have giggled a little when I saw it. For you introverts, you can probably relate to that picture. There are more times than not, I catch myself with a serious/frown face, than I do with a joyful one. It is almost a habit really. Recently, I have started looking in the car mirror to check what my face is saying and correct it before I go in places.
This past January, one of my prayers for the year was that God would teach me to love people better. One thing I became aware of over the next couple of months was this. When I walked in to a coffee shop or anywhere for that matter and people saw me, who knew me, they didn't run up and give me a hug or ask me how I was doing. However, when my extroverted friend saw people she knew, people ran up to her, hugged her, and greeted her with a huge smile. WHAT? What was that I thought, I wish people acted that way towards me. Extroverts have it so easy. Hugs, smiles, friends, and relationships with nearly everyone. And, I am not saying I always desired hugs, surface level conversations, and smiles either. From hiding in the church parking lot before church started, or hiding in the back room while people congregated in the lobby. Hugs and smiles were far from what this girl wanted.
But, like I said. This past January my prayer was that God would teach me to love people better. And, a part of that was not having the scary serious face that intimidated people. You see the difference between me, and my extroverted friend in the coffee shop was that she let her joy show on her face. You see, joy is contagious and it attracts people. I may have had joy inside my introverted being, however, I was not letting anyone else know that. Hear me out, I am not saying to change, and become an extrovert. Believe me, its quite hard to change your wiring. But what you can do as an introvert is allow God to stretch you, and grow you.
If God is love, and people feel more loved by the extroverted, than they do by the introverted. Then something is missing. We are wired differently, introverts and extroverts. And we can communicate and love on people in a different beautiful way than extroverts can. I am not saying to change who you are. But as a pastor's wife, there are a whole lot of first impressions, and one time opportunities we have to love people. If one chance is all we have for a first time visitor, or a stranger walking down the street, is what they see joy and love on the outside? Or is what they see a serious, intimidating, strong woman?
For the people who have been coming for a while, who haven't had the opportunity to get to know us, what do they see? If we aren't careful we can miss so many opportunities to love people because we don't catch our faces in the mirror before we leave the car. Six years later, I am trying to go back and love people I didn't love well when the church plant started. It is difficult. It is hard, and it is uncomfortable. It is much harder to love those people who have left, and moved on, than start loving the ones right in front of you. It is truly humbling. Even someone this past year, I didn't love well am I trying to mend things with.
When you start praying God teaches you to love people better…you will be surprised those from your past He brings to mind for you to love better now.
Pastor's wife, I am just now learning this. There is a whole lot of my serious me, that I am trying to die to, to love people well. Just the other day my husband and I were helping with a college ministry at a church. He said, go talk to those people (strangers.) My husband is a crazy extrovert, he can go up to anyone and carry on a conversation. I however, am really good at feeding off of him in conversations. If he can set up the conversation then I am good. But to start a conversation? That is scary to me. It would be like dragging a cat to the bath. I would say hi, but after that I would be lost and stand there awkwardly. Yes, sad to admit. But if loving people well is trying to get to know people, and being the first to be friendly and talk to someone, then I am going to try.
Here are a few quick tips I try to go by to love people better. It is a daily reminder.
1. Check your face before you leave the car. What is it communicating to people?
2. Never be second to say hello.
3. Pray daily God will teach you to love people better.
4. Be willing to get uncomfortable.
5. Check your face again, and again, and again.
6. Remember God is love. One chance with someone may be all you have to love them well.
7. Leave room to mess up. It takes practice, and a whole lot of grace! (I am still learning and working at it.)
(To those in my past I didn't love well, and those presently, He isn't done with me yet.)
xo a girl who sleeps with the pastor