Seeing Myself in the Introverted Christ

Seeing Myself in the Introverted Christ May 3, 2022

By Susannah Cragwick

When I was about ten or eleven years old, my neighbor gently told me not to preach to her, not to witness to her and, by doing so, she set my spirit free. She began within me a sacred healing process where I am finding the freedom to lean unashamedly into my own identity and definitions of what it means to love as Christ loved.

Because of her gentleness and authenticity as well as her courage to define exactly what she wanted from our friendship, I formed a deep, genuine connection not only with her, but with many others throughout my life.

Yet, even with her and others’ love and encouragement, I still spent years burdened by continuous shame and guilt over supposedly not having witnessed enough to those around me.

“But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 KJV)

I’ve always had difficulty with that scripture.

Although it no longer fills me with the same fear and anxiety that it once did, I will honestly say that I still experience deep inner pain every time I see or hear it. I feel all too often, teachings on this scripture and many others show how narrow-minded interpretations of God’s Word can cause shame and fear to develop in those who have done absolutely nothing wrong, in those who should see themselves as incredible witnesses to Christ’s love.

I am choosing now to let go of the lie that God would ever desire to reject me for operating with the personality with which he created me. I am shedding my psyche of the once constant pressure to feign charisma when the introvert within me is completely exhausted and just needs solitary stillness.

Never once did the overwhelming pressure to force a limited definition of God into all my interactions deserve space in the crevices of my heart, mind, and soul. I am choosing to share my faith and his love in a way that resonates with the truth of my own identity. I am continuing to heal, to set myself free.

I have always been uncomfortable with the traditional methods of witnessing so often emphasized and encouraged within my church upbringing. Randomly asking people if they knew Christ, if they had heard the good news of the gospel, and awkwardly weaving Bible verses and Biblical references into the tapestry of my conversations has always been incredibly outside of my comfort zone.

I’ve always panicked inside, my heart skipping a beat when people have asked me, “Did you have a chance to witness to him/her? Did you have an opportunity to share the Lord?”

When I was a teenager, a drama was put on at my church. At the end of the drama (or what people thought was the end), the pastor stood on stage talking to the audience about Christ’s infinite love and gift of salvation. Suddenly, one of the actors emerged from a side entrance writhing in chains with his clothing torn and covered in blood.

As he walked back and forth, he cried and yelled, getting right in the faces of certain audience members, “Why didn’t you tell me? Why? Why?”

He was a symbolic rendering of all of those to whom we, as Christians, had failed to witness. We were the reason that he was in hell. I feel that narrative summarizes much of the fear and shame that I carried during my teenage years.

It is ironic somehow that, even though I grew up in a church that talked constantly about God’s grace and about how nothing could separate us from his love, I grew up with intense anxiety and fear that God would reject me and those I loved if I were not perfect enough. I feel that, in the Christian environments and media I was exposed to growing up, those who could witness to people using traditional methods were championed as the more praise-worthy witnesses of Christ’s love.

Testimonies in which someone shared the gospel with a friend, coworker, or someone on the street were praised as true examples of how God calls us to live as Christians. People would receive accolades for telling others God’s message of salvation and even earn extra points if they were able to lead them in the salvation prayer.

Truth be told, I’m realizing that I have been programmed into seeing my faith and my ability to share it as less than because of my sometimes shy, always introverted nature, but I’m rejoicing in the awakening truth that my authentic self does now and always has mirrored the character of Christ in many ways.

Although there were times when Jesus seemed to be witnessing according to the formula widely praised in many churches, speaking energetically to crowds, quoting scriptures and telling people how to obtain salvation, this was not the only or even primary way that he chose to relate to or connect with those around him.

As an introvert, I find myself more comfortable with one-on-one interactions. Being in a crowd of people over-stimulates me and sometimes completely drains my energy. In discovering more about Christ, it has been so meaningful to see that, numerous times, Christ connected with people through powerful one-on-one interactions.

When the woman who had been bleeding for many years touched the hem of his robe, he stopped what he was doing to listen and focus completely on her. In the story of the woman at the well, we see her become his primary focus. And perhaps, one often overlooked detail in the story of the woman at the well is that Jesus chose solitude. He chose to just sit by the well and interact with one person. While I fully believe that this was for the woman’s benefit, I cannot help but notice that Christ himself was, at the same time, replenishing his own energy.

In other stories in the Bible, we see Christ choosing complete solitude. As an introvert, I often do the same. I interact with people, but desperately crave solitude in order to recharge my energy.

In life, we are often told to strive to become more like Christ, but yet, there is such sacred freedom and peace in realizing all the ways that we, as both introverts and extroverts, already mirror his personality and genuine love for those around us. There will always be those who tell us that we must change who we are to become more like Christ, that we cannot operate as our authentic self if we want others to truly know him and experience his eternal salvation.

My soul honors every part of your being, and my heart resonates with yours as we deconstruct from these lies and navigate all the pain, fear and anxiety these misconceptions have thrown upon us.

We may always have times when we are told that we are too much, that we need to be meeker and quieter to truly mirror Christ. We may always encounter those who make us feel as if our introverted nature is not a true reflection of Christ or what Christ desires from his people.

Yet, let us hold fast to the truth that the sacred identity of Christ has always run through our veins as we receive the freedom Christ gave us and all of humanity to operate fully as our most authentic selves. Look into the scriptures with eyes willing to see yourself as you look at Christ and his character, and you will notice that, in many ways, he is like you.

There is hope and healing for humanity as people strive in so many ways to become more like Christ, but there is also sacred freedom in realizing that, as we explore Christ’s identity, each of us will find a facet of our own.

I spent years feeling like I was not witnessing to people enough and being angry at myself because I was too shy to tell people about Christ, but those days of feeling ashamed for being authentically myself are over and have been for some time. I was made in Christ’s image and therefore, my heart is also a reflection of his.

All my life, people have been coming closer to Christ because of me. They have sensed Christ’s love in a deeper, more profound way because of my words and actions, because I choose to love them in the fullness of my authenticity. My personality is not and never has been a hindrance to others knowing his love and experiencing his salvation, but rather Christ within me, Christ beside me, and Christ above me have always operated in perfect unity.

I have always been enough.

You have always been enough.

About Susannah Cragwick
Susannah Cragwick is a writer and poet from Butte, MT and currently resides in Missoula. Over the past few years, she feels that in many facets of her life, she is going through this process of setting herself free and is passionate about putting all of that into writing. Author image courtesy of Chad Mallow. You can read more about the author here. You can read more about the author here.

Browse Our Archives