How many times have we said, ‘I’ll go and boil the kettle’? Really? You don’t want to do that. What we mean is that we will boil the water in the kettle. Fortunately, the kettle and water are two very distinct entities.
We often talk about ‘going down into our introvert’. That is important because, as Christians, we want Jesus to be Lord of the whole of who we are. The problem is that our introvert is the place where we have felt everything throughout our lives. We may have worked hard to ‘switch off’ or ignore those emotions but that is where they reside. Unfortunately, many of those emotions will be negative because it is the introvert that is missed or ignored – both by those around us and even by our own extrovert. Being ‘missed’ leads to inner disconnection, self-rejection and deep loneliness. To make matters worse, what we feel in our introvert doesn’t get processed because we simply don’t go there. Our introvert becomes synonymous with pain, loneliness and everything negative. What our introvert contains becomes confused with the introvert itself. We despise a most wonderful part of who we are and identify it with all things horrible. This is the root of low self-worth.
The truth is that there is nothing wrong with any part of who we are. God looked at everything he had made, including us, and said it was ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). When Mankind took a wrong turn and served himself rather than his Creator, the equipment he was given to live by didn’t suddenly become bad. Just because we put dirty water into the kettle doesn’t make the kettle bad. It means we haven’t respected what the kettle was made for and used it properly. Making bad choices about how to use who we are didn’t make who we are bad. We must make this distinction otherwise we fall into the dangerous trap of insulting God’s glorious creation. Our sin lies not in being rubbish but in not recognising how good we are and making choices accordingly. It is what we have done with who we are that is wrong – but now God gives us a second chance through Jesus Christ. He replaces our old nature with its perverse choices and gives a new heart with a freedom to choose to live selflessly by the power of the Spirit. Who we are stays the same but how we use who we are is now radically different. ‘For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago’ (Ephesians 2:10 NLT). We are set free to choose to fulfil all that God had in mind for us when he called us into being. This perspective is vital to our view of ourselves. We can either see ourselves as constantly struggling to be good and to be a good this or that – or we can accept that we are perfectly equipped to fulfil all that God has for us through faith in Jesus. We are already a good friend, husband, son, daughter, wife, colleague etc. We choose to live it out or choose to live below it. When we understand this we will argue less, defend ourselves less, be far more comfortable in our skin – and more effectively shine the character and life of God out into this dark world.
On 5/03/2016 Julie commented: This makes complete sense to me! I'd always associated my introvert as my enemy, the 'bad' side of me where all the pain and negatives resided but I'm gradually learning that, although there is a lot of pain there, there is so much more to my introvert temperament. I've had to process the pain that has accumulated there to enable me to see the qualities of my introvert and I think that will be an ongoing process - rather like de-scaling a kettle. I've always lived in the north of England where the water is lovely and soft and limescale isn't a problem - I'd never de-scaled an appliance until I moved to Suffolk! After a few months of living here I started to discover a gritty residue at the bottom of my coffee and a friend kindly explained how to de-scale my kettle, a process I now do regularly! Similarly, having discovered the richness of my introvert, I intend to keep it 'de-scaled' and free from the clutter of life that can cause it to become negative again by sharing what I think and feel on an ongoing basis.
John replied: That is a really good analogy Julie. As we 'reclaim the ground' within the introvert it is important to make sure that we share what goes on within us regularly so we keep 'descaled.'