So…What about “Spiritual Distancing”?

Here’s a clear truth from the last few weeks: we’ve learned some new words and phrases. And one of the most repeated I’ve heard is “social distancing.” We introverts know all about that, but this usage doesn’t quite mean the same.

And so it has people talking-even wondering if it’s quite right. See this post from a Facebook friend.

In talking about this with a staff member today along with the choices churches are facing due to “gathering” restrictions, it hit me that we are dealing with another thing for many people; I’ll call it spiritual distancing. For some, this isn’t a new thing. They already keep their distance from spiritual people and conversations. So what about those who are not only being restricted socially but in some sense spiritually?

Multiple answers abound, thanks to the Internet. If you are hungry and resourceful enough, you can find spiritual food to keep you close and healthy rather than distant and wondering. Here are my top two suggestions:

  1. Podcasts…if you haven’t dipped your toe in this ocean, now would be a great time to get wet. Two suggestions: 1) Most well-known pastors/authors have podcasts. Search for them and subscribe. 2) My preference is to search for episode topics rather than follow the same person. For instance, you could search “prayer,” “faith,” “peace from God,” or “overcoming fear.” Search and find voices God can use to overcome spiritual distancing.
  2. Youversion…the best Bible app. I have to be honest. I haven’t tried any others. But there is so much to like about this one. One element that can tremendously impact spiritual distancing is the reading plans. There are loads of options. And maybe the best kept secret about the app is that you can invite friends to read the plan with you and offer conversation between all those reading the plan. That brings spiritual people closer to one another and hopefully closer to God.

My encouragement to you is this. Whatever some one or some thing may create to force distance between you and God, stand up. Resist. Draw close. Feed that hunger. Connect. Avoid spiritual distancing.

Quiet (book review)

My guess is most readers of my blog have not read Susan Cain’s book Quiet. My encouragement is that you should.

Her book first came on my radar in 2012 when I heard her interviewed briefly about it at a Catalyst conference. I was intrigued but didn’t reach for it until now. Too bad I didn’t read it earlier.

Why? Because she helps you get it-the differences between extroverts and introverts. She helps you embrace your introversion, if you are one. And she helps the extrovert understand you. Yes, that’s possible. She even gives you insights into those people who appear to be one but are really the other. You’re intrigued now, aren’t you?

So who should read this book?

  1. Anyone who suspects they are introverted but aren’t sure
  2. Anyone who knows they’re introverted and struggle with it
  3. Anyone who lives with an introvert
  4. Anyone who works for or leads introverts
  5. Anyone who wonders why they are drawn to have introverted friends

Whoever you are, bear in mind that appearance is not reality. Some people act like extroverts, but the effort costs them in energy, authenticity, and even physical health. Others seem aloof or self-contained, but their inner landscapes are rich and full of drama. So the next time you see a person with a composed face and a soft voice, remember that inside her mind she might be solving an equation, composing a sonnet, designing a hat. She might, that is, be deploying the powers of quiet. P266

This is one of those books to not only read but add to your library. Power Up!

Running Tuesdays: Preferring Running Alone

by Michael Wilder

Running alone versus running with others can quickly turn into a discussion of being an introvert or extrovert. Introverts keep to themselves, but extroverts seek out others. Introverts need to be alone to “recharge” their batteries while extroverts need other people to “recharge” their batteries. Introverts are quieter compared to extroverts who are louder. I can keep going down a list of the differences between the two, but I believe running alone versus running with others is not an introvert or extrovert thing. I personally know both groups of people who run alone or with others. What it boils down to is personal preference.

Yes, I am an introvert, and yes I do prefer running alone. Running alone allows my mind to focus on the past, present, and the future. Running alone is a form of worship for me. I listen to worship music and admire His creation. Running alone gives me the opportunity to learn. I love to listen to pod cast and audio books while I run. Listening to those types of media helps me be a better person. Running alone does “recharge” my batteries especially if I am stressed or worried about something. Running is a release from everyday life. I struggle getting up early during the week to run, but after the back and forth between my mind of getting up or not, I always feel ready for the day after a run. I am not saying I can’t do this “stuff” alone, but it would be kind of awkward/rude for me to be listening to an audio book while my friend is talking to me.

Like I said earlier I prefer to run alone, but I enjoy running with people too. A majority of my runs are alone. This is not on purpose; rather it is because of when I do my runs. Running at 6am on a weekday 3 times a week usually does work with my running friends. Plus, if I do run with someone it would require a drive on my part or theirs. My preference is to get up at the time I want to go for a run, walk out my door, and start. When it comes to running with someone else, you have to organize your schedules. Organizing schedules is extremely hard to do in this busy world of ours. This is why I like to have scheduled group runs. Once a month I try to get with someone else to run with. We plan it out a couple of weeks ahead of time.

When I do run in a group setting it is enjoyable. For the most part of a run, no matter what distance, I chat it up with the people I am running with. I don’t run with a group to improve my time, which does come as an added bonus, but as a way to connect with my running friends. My wife goes to Starbucks and spends several hours with friends talking and connecting. I go for a run with my friends instead of going to Starbucks. For me, there is no greater joy than talking with a good friend while you run. Life’s struggles, issues, or problems seem to be clearer while you run and talk it out. Maybe it’s the physical activity or the cool morning air. However, running in a group for the purpose of talking and connecting is beneficial.

Bottom line here is that this introvert likes to be alone while running but will spread his extroverted wings and lace up with a group. As long as the group is out for a fun run, then I am all for it!

A Letter to the Couple in the Movie Theater 

To the couple who sat by me yesterday to watch the new Star Trek movie,

You had no idea how your arriving 20 minutes after the 4:20 start time put you in a certain category in my structured world. You also had no idea that I watched you ascend the steps toward me in the top row, corner seat, somehow knowing this wasn’t going to go in my favor. And then you had popcorn. You really had no idea.

The theater wasn’t even half full. But yet you somehow determined that walking up to the furtherest corner was the best move. It took me a while, but I finally figured it out. You, ma’am, had some sort of wrap on your lower leg. That drove you to my corner. You were looking for the best seat in order for you to prop your foot somehow. You had no idea that my plan was to raise the armrest when the movie started in order for me to prop whatever healthy part of me I wanted on the seat next to me.

Sir, I’m sure you had no idea when you sat down next to me that I seriously considered moving down to one of those dozens of seats you passed to get to one next to me that I also considered mine. And, I hope you had no idea that for about the first ten minutes of the movie God and I were talking a lot about you and your wife.

Actually, God was talking, and I was doing a whole bunch of listening; and you and your wife wasn’t what he talked about much to me at all. Although he did point out that you paid for one seat, actually two, just like I did. And the seats at Royal Palm are certainly not reserved, so you had every right to pick a seat wherever you liked or your wife needed. He also reminded me that some people enjoy the whole movie experience (refreshments, getting up to go the bathroom) unlike I do, and that is also perfectly normal, even acceptable.

After God pretty much told me to get over my introverted self, you had no idea that I started watching both of you. Yes, the distraction of your hands going in and out of the popcorn bag initially annoyed me, but I chose to appreciate that you graciously shared the popcorn between you. Ma’am, I watched you adjust yourself as quietly as you could throughout the movie to ease the pressure on your foot. And when you openly engaged with the movie by laughing and commenting, I moved from wanting to relocate to actually enjoying your company.

So, by the end of the movie, which I recommend seeing, you had no idea the lessons I had learned that had nothing to do with the content of the movie. It had to do with you, with how to enjoy any movie experience, and with accepting people for who they are, especially when they aren’t like you. Couple, thank you for coming to the movie and choosing to sit next to me. You had no idea.