jeremiah 29

Exit 2. I’m an introvert with 895 friends. COMBO BREAKER!

Every few months on Facebook, I see things going around that discuss specific traits and challenges of being an introvert or an extrovert. I definitely lean more toward being an introvert. When I’m stressed and overwhelmed with life, sometimes I need time to be alone. When I first enter an unfamiliar large group setting, I tend to sit quietly by myself for a while until I get a feel for what’s going on. And weekends where I’m busy running around from one social obligation to the next really wear me out.

But I’m not 100% on the introvert side of the spectrum. A few months ago, when someone observed on Facebook that you can tell the introverts from the extroverts by looking at how many Facebook friends they had. I replied, “I’m an introvert with 895 friends. COMBO BREAKER!” My life has taken a lot of crazy detours and scenic routes to get me to this point where I have so many great friends. I am no longer the quiet kid I was in high school, reading and doing homework in a corner by myself during lunch. My primary social life spans three counties and three decades of birth. I love having a house, and plenty of movies, board games, and retro video games, to share with my friends. I love having big groups of people over to hang out at my house. I just can’t host big social events all the time. Once every month or two at the most is just fine by me.

Lately, though, I haven’t been very social at all. My weekend plans have been lighter than usual, and I haven’t invited anyone over. And I haven’t really felt like changing that. I think part of the reason just has to do with being tired, being busy with work and other commitments, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But there’s something bigger at play here. Looming in the background is the possibility of big changes in my life, changes of the sort that may disrupt the current patterns of socializing. These are changes I am hoping for and changes I need to make, but they are changes of the sort that I cannot discuss publicly yet, so I apologize for being vague. (If you know me personally, and you don’t know what I am referring to, ask me privately.) The changes in my social life will be collateral damage of sorts, and believe me, I would like to avoid or at least minimize this, but at this point it is a possibility I have to consider. And because of this, I’m finding myself more reluctant to invest in a network of friends and places that may not remain intact in the same form for long.

However, this is not the healthiest way to approach this situation. One of my favorite passages from the Bible in this situation is Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles. It includes this very famous verse: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” (29:11). It seems like some of my Christian friends say that that is one of their favorite verses, and the rest say that it is one of their least favorite. It seems pretty obvious why it might be someone’s favorite: prosperity, not being harmed, and hope are all good things to look forward to. Those who do not like this verse usually object to it being quoted out of context. God is not saying these words to me or to you. This was written to a specific group of people at a specific point in history. They were in exile in a foreign land, and God was telling them that after a specific time period, he would bring them back to the homeland that he had promised them centuries earlier. It is not a universal promise that everyone will find prosperity and be delivered from harm.

I believe, however, that this passage says a lot about the character of God. His specific plans for specific individuals aren’t always the same, but he still loves his people and wants to bring them back to him, somehow, at the right time, whenever that is. And the paragraph before this verse (specifically, verses 4-9), when read in context, speaks a lot to a situation like mine. God tells his people how to live while they are in exile, while they are waiting for God to deliver them. He tells them basically to keep living life as if that place of exile were their home, because for now, it is. Settle down, work for a living, raise families, and pray for the prosperity of the land where they are living, and when the time is right, I’ll deliver you.

I am trying to make changes to my life, to be delivered from a situation that is not ideal, and it is the kind of change that is not entirely in my hands. Maybe something will happen tomorrow that will set something in motion, or maybe I’ll have to wait years. Until then, I shouldn’t put my life on hold. Until then, I’m still in the exact same position in life as I was a few months ago, and I should be living the same way. I still have my house, I still have great friends, so I should still be socializing the same way I used to. And that’s how I’m going to go about things. I’m not going to put everything on hold while I wait for this to sort itself out.  I might need more time to rest, or more time to do things related to making these changes, but until I know for sure that life is entering a new season, I have to keep living in the old season.  And I intend to.  I just need my friends to be a little patient with me sometimes.