Yesterday morning, I woke up feeling brittle, as if the least little tap would send a spider web of cracks racing across my surface. I wish I could say that it has never happened before, but that wouldn’t be true. There were certain things and reasons that I felt that way, but it didn’t really matter. It was too late to prevent it. I’d given out too much of myself. Once I’m there, the best thing for me to do is crawl back under the covers and hide from humanity for a day or two.

As much as I needed to, staying in bed wasn’t an option. I was supposed to be at a venue early in the morning to help with a concert. It would be a day of taking care of artists and crew, feeding them, answering questions, selling tickets, answering too many phones calls to count, all with very little down time.

As the day went on, I alternated between moments of ok-maybe-I-can-do-this to I-have-to-leave-this-instant-or-I’ll-burst-into-tears. Mid-afternoon, I shared how I was feeling with a friend. I told her that I didn’t want to be that way. She replied, “But that is how you are made.” All I could think was that I didn’t want to be made that way.

George MacDonald wrote “I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”

I believe that. For you. When it comes to me, I can think of plenty of glorious creatures I would rather be.

Why would God give me gifts to nurture, encourage and tend to people and at the same time give me this urge to run away from people? They seem at odds with each other. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hermit. I like people, just in smaller doses. Especially when I start off feeling fragile, one small interaction or a series of them can be more than I can take.

And I had more than I could take last night, so I left. Once the concert started, I got in my car and cried the whole way home. I hate that I’m like this. Why couldn’t I just sit down and enjoy the night like a “normal” person, instead of feeling like I’m weak?

People tend to think that I have it all together. I’m smart, talented and have a house, job and car. Sometimes I even buy into the hype. But deep down, I know that I don’t have it together because I have this weakness. It reminds me that I’m not perfect. Not even practically perfect in every way like Mary Poppins, even though I try.

Maybe that’s why God made me this way. To keep me humble. I think that is part of it. But I believe the larger part is that this piece of me that I hate is also what makes me relatable. I often find myself observing human nature rather than interacting as a way to build a needed buffer. As a result, I’m pretty perceptive about people and they often feel comfortable sharing with me when they need to talk.

Looking at it logically, I can see how my weakness has good in it, but it is more difficult to see that emotionally. Right now, all I know is that I’m longing to be a different glorious creature. And I know I shouldn’t.

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38 Responses to Brittle

  1. Jen Rose says:

    Oh man. This is me too. I love taking care of people, but after a point… off to hide in the bathroom! (I kind of did this at church today. I wasn’t expecting some kind of potluck thing with 300 people. Ducked out after the service was done and didn’t look back.)

    So yes. I relate. Thanks for sharing this, Kate!

  2. redhead.kate says:

    Jen – I like to fill cups with ice or something during church potlucks. It gets me out of the line of fire of all those people, but I still have to mentally prepare myself. I completely understand not staying! We should start a “coping mechanism” list for introverts and see what other people do.

  3. It helps me so much to read that someone else has those feelings rushing through their veins and that they wrestle with them. I struggle to express just how frustrated I get with myself, almost wishing I could unzip myself from who I am so that I could relax. I nodded my head all the way through reading your post (and the comment from Jen).

    It’s been quoted numerous times and I know most are familiar with it, but C.S. Lewis says it so well ‘ We read to know we’re not alone’, and although I still half wish I was someone other than me – it helped this morning to read something and be able to say ‘Yes, that’s exactly how I feel’.


  4. Gina says:

    I couldn’t read this without thinking about Anne and her strong desire to have brown hair and be called Cordelia. I like who you are, Kate!

  5. Laura Peterson says:

    Aw, Kate. I hear ya. My most regular and persistent whine to the Lord is “I don’t wannnnaaa be made this way!” But I’m with Gina – I like the way you are made, too! Maybe that’s why we need other folks in our lives, to balance those messages out. Hoping for a non-brittle day for you today.

  6. Word Lily says:

    That’s a beautiful quote. But I’m with you. I wish I thought that about myself, but most days I end up wishing I could do/be more/different. (I’m reading MacDonald right now, btw.)

    Interestingly, I think it’s somewhat an American thing for “normal” to equal extroverted.

  7. Word Lily says:

    Also, have you read this book: Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture by Adam S. McHugh? I’m interested but haven’t yet bought a copy.

  8. Deb Henderson says:

    So beautifully said Kate!
    Thank you for sharing this. I care about others too but get along better in a crowd if I have a task to tend. I loved your mention of filling glasses with ice. I also loved that you allowed me to fill the jugs with ice and water one night at Hutchmoot when I was feeling just this need to run…what a mercy that was. Thank you :-)

  9. Greg Franklin says:

    I love doing the concerts and being with the artists, most whom I can call friends now, Jason being my favorite. Your second paragraph described my concert day exactly. As fun as it is I still make a point to disappear for a little while each concert to gather my thoughts and calm down, If I didn’t I would go nuts!! I have gotten frustrated enough by a couple events AND I just want to hide from people that I decided to quit, I think God had other plans for me though. I do the job well, I love doing and taking care of my friends, but there are times when all the noise, and people and movement start to close in on me and drive me crazy and I have to bolt out of there. My wife and family have all seen that look when I have had too much and I am getting ready to run, they just step out of the way. A side note. Im uncomfortable enough by compliments that it really bothers me when I am given praise for a job well done. I love doing concerts but I hate having my name on them, its not about me, its about God :-)

  10. Shaynne says:

    Thanks for posting this. I always feel like I am the only introvert everywhere I go. Having that internal struggle between the introvert and the one gifted to serve is HARD. I have sort of learned how to deal with my “uniqueness” until an extroverts that doesn’t understand me tries to make me feel like there is something wrong with me. I want to scream “Please stop I can make myself feel bad enough because I am this way don’t make it any worse!!!”

  11. Nancy says:

    I ask God on a regular basis why He called me, a natural introvert who feels exactly the way you do, to be a leader in His church. I know that Jesus came to push us all out of our comfort zones, but sometimes, I really want Him to stop pushing me. He doesn’t though. You have given me a fresh perspective, however. I never thought that my introversion was as asset in that I do spend much time observing and being aware of what those around me might be feeling or dealing with in their lives. I have often articulated the fact that God has blessed me (although sometimes it feels like a curse) with the ability to read between the lines of what people are actually saying to understand what they have not said. I too long to be what I consider to be a more glorious being. I struggle to accept me as I am. With God’s help, we will be able to do just exactly that…….someday. :-)

  12. Aimee says:

    I can relate. It was like you were reading my mind. i often wonder why God made me this way. Why I’d rather retreat but like helping people. I always feel like an outsider where ever I am. It was nice to read your post and the comments after. I am not alone and I guess if so many feel this way then there really isn’t anything wrong with us. :)

  13. Temiprice says:

    Your thoughts are so beautifully stated. I have never read that George MacDonald quote and it really moved me. It does seem that confident, extroverted people have an easier time of it. But then, they probably face some uncomfortable feelings if left on thier own too long, whereas I can entertain myself endlessly.

    This week, I am having to absorb some feedback from others on my job performance and choose what to receive and what to try and change. That is always hard. But reading this helped remind me to value my gifts because they are the gifts God chose for me. And though I can try to improve upon my weaknesses, I shouldn’t beat myself up about them. Thank you.

  14. Jaclyn says:

    Whew, thank you. Tonight I’m experiencing a bit of a breathless panic, that I think is resulting from so much go and go, as well as self-expectations that are impossibly high. I’m going to take a break and get some chocolate =) and remember that God indeed made me this way, and I’m so glad He did so I could learn to love Him and live lovingly!

  15. natalie says:

    I love how God is no stranger in our times of weakness. Loved this post and was so happy you linked up with us on the “tell your story” link up! Thanks for sharing how God is working through you and in you!

  16. redhead.kate says:

    Thanks for all the comments to help me feel like I’m not alone. Honestly, I didn’t want to write this post because I felt like I was strange for feeling the way I do sometimes. It’s nice to know that lots of us feel that way!
    I haven’t read Introvertsin the Church (but I’ve heard good things about it), but I do highly recommend Susan Cain’s book Quiet as well as her TedTalk on introverts.

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