Attaching labels to people is a dangerous business.
We all sense this, to some degree. We know that, while categorizing people can be helpful, it can blind us to the complexities that make each person unique. And so, especially with those close to us, we try to keep an open mind.
But when it comes to ourselves, we forget.
I am — as my friends know — an introvert. This means, primarily, that being alone is how I recharge. On the rare occasion when I have the house to myself, I revel in it. Instead of using the free time to meet, call, or even write to a friend, I simply soak up the blissful quiet and feel peace flooding my soul.
I have learned, however, that I can take this too far.
Depression and I are not strangers — because alas, this, too, seems to be part of my makeup. Although I expend significant energy fighting it off, there are times when I just can’t. And so, because I am an introvert, I seek aloneness. When I find that aloneness, it helps…to a point.
This point — the point at which solitude is no longer helpful — is the moment when my self-labeling becomes dangerous. Because I forget that I am not just an introvert. I forget that I do need people.
It’s tempting (especially for us introverts — ESPECIALLY if we are Christian introverts) to say that we don’t need people; to assert that all we should need is God; that people will fail us and that we should wait on the Lord. And yet, this super-spiritual rationalizing falls to pieces as soon as I crack open the New Testament.
As members of the Body of Christ, we are created to be in communion with one another, and this truth echoes throughout almost every page of the Gospels and the epistles. We reflect God’s image here on earth, and though we do so imperfectly, we are called to do so nonetheless…and this means, among other things, that we are to comfort those who are depressed.
When I withdraw from communion in my misguided introvert-style attempt to cheer myself up, I miss some of the beauty of being part of this Body. I say, effectively: “I have no need of you.” In doing this, I’m not depending on God at all; I am, in fact, rejecting the help He has provided in the form of beautiful sisters and brothers in Christ.
Fellow introverts: I am learning to do better. I have found that isolating myself eventually makes things much, much worse. Join me — especially when things look darkest — in stepping outside of your label, outside of yourself, and into the restorative fellowship God has put in place for His beloved children.