Cautious Bravery – A Reflection On Introversion

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With glistening skin and sandy toes we’re slowly emerging out of our camp cocoon into the reality of laundry and the glaring need to valet the car!

Watching my children by the water was revealing for me and forming for them; from extreme caution to fearless bravery they all approached the same ‘task’ in such different ways.

Hoping that their appetites might be the homing call for dinner I lovingly prepared spelt bread (made at home), slow cooked lemon and herb chicken (yes, even on a camp site) and salad; but instead I had to send out a search party for my eldest two children which unsurprisingly led me to the water where they were so immersed in fun and community that they barely heard their stomachs rumbling. I watched them run and jump repeatedly off the jetty, high into the sky and come down with a jubilant splash!

As I walked my youngest two to the waterfront, one with little hand tucked into mine, the other child running ahead; even their clothes spoke of their glaring differences. One in full swimming attire, fully intending to dive right in – the other still in shorts and t-shirt with swim shorts in hand ‘just in case’! They were both cautious of the cold water, dipping toes and running back to base. One face lit up and let out squeals of delight, the other pondered, straight faced, considering the cost.

After a delicate process of entry one wannabe water baby lay fully in the shallow water, head safely above chin level and shouted ‘I’m swimming mama’; and with every subsequent ‘dip’ said child took less and less time to get brave on the descent.

And my cautious child went waist deep after much cajoling and he finally smiled; we cheered and whooped and high fived him on his exit. He grinned all the way home.

 …and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep.

Ezekiel 47

I was starkly aware of my own personality peering at me with mocking eyes; not the diving and repeating but the caution and the toe dipping.

I was the shy, compliant child; desperate to please, then I was the quietly adventurous traveller walking this lonely planet; scaling the streets of New York city with new found plane friends but loving the alone.  Then I was the mum at the theme park holding the coats and the baby five year old. And then there are the times when I don’t want to answer the phone or go to that party; I can talk to hundreds but struggle with the one. I like books and stillness; they bring fullness to my struggling fuel tank. Apparently I ‘push the red‘ and my seeming extrovert self is dead.

You see introversion can walk the path of shyness and ‘the quiet one’ but passion and creativity push through that wanten personality and we become who we are with that familiar recharge of still and silent and quiet.

“It’s not our experiences that form us but the ways in which we respond to them;” ― Pico Iyer, The Virtue of Stillness

I have this friend; she’s the run around the park with the kids, dragging shore line introverts into the water, stay late around the campfire, join in the water fight, include everyone party mum and I love her. I love her for many reasons but one big reason, between you and I, is that I want to be more like her. We so often admire qualities in people because we see them in ourselves. In my case I see the possibility of those traits in myself. I have to make those possibilities a reality, it’s my choice.

So where I used to dip my toes reluctantly into the braver aspects of life, I’ve been around long enough to know that you eventually acclimatise to the cold water and it becomes fun, and easier – and then you can go a bit deeper.

And it’s in the depths that I want to live; learning to swim freely through the open waters of God’s love, freedom and opportunity.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:7

So next time you see me trying something new and I’m not smiling (yet); give this introvert a minute or two, keep cheering me on; I’ll get there eventually and make sure you high-five me on the way out.

(And then leave me alone for a while…)

Smile.

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