Old Skool Cafe in San Francisco is like no other restaurant I know and it's the realization of a dream for my friend, Teresa. This one-of-a-kind place employs at-risk youth in every aspect of the operation. And despite the exhaustion of seven years of struggle and a schedule that doesn't quit, Teresa simply glows as she sits with us in this space--the tangible reality of a dream.
My dream is to have a dream.
I've always envied people with a dream.
For a brief period in my youth I dreamed of becoming a professional ice skater. Until, at the age of 10, I realized it was already too late.
Even within my skills, dreams never took root. I could sing and received plenty of recognition and affirmation, but it was something I enjoyed, not something I pursued.
It's not for lack of trying to create a dream. I've taken tests and read books and attended workshops--all promising to help me distill and realize my dream. All to no avail.
I have a problem.
I've been told I'm afraid of failure. Or perhaps, that I'm afraid of success. Others have proposed I'm lazy or don't have a strong work ethic. I'm too passive. I'm A.D.D. I'm a quitter. I'm a poor leader. The list goes on.
At times I've tried to make other people's dreams for me happen. It seemed the godly thing to do. But in the end my vision would cloud as the passion waned. I simply didn't care.
In the last year I've been asked repeatedly, "What are you passionate about?" "What's your message?" "What do you want to do?" I'm at a unique place in my life where I can create my own job description and start living into my dream.
All I'm missing is the dream.
I have a gift.
Ironically, I'm not a person who lacks passion. In fact, I have a wide range of topics and causes and ideas I'm passionate about.
Therein lies the problem.
Turning a dream into a reality requires a singleness of focus for which I'm not wired. It demands a perseverance fueled by hope and courage and a clear picture of what could be. And that's not how my passion works.
For years I've thought myself a failure; wishy-washy and fickle at best. But God is clarifying a different path.
One where...I give my passion and skills to help others accomplish their dream.
While I thought this was a temporary assignment (something to grow me while I waited for my dream to evolve), I'm beginning to embrace it as my core purpose. In a way I can't fully describe, God gives me vision, energy and passion for the dreams of others. And when I've accomplished what he has for me to accomplish, he moves me along. Not very sexy and rarely easy.
It's still difficult for me to give up the dream of having a dream. I often romanticize the struggle and long to create something that is uniquely "me". But I'm truly energized and alive when I'm doing what I was made to do--even if I can't explain it to others.
I've grown used to the incredulous stares I receive when confessing that I'm an introvert. "But you don't seem shy at all!"
I didn't say I was shy. I said I was an introvert. Stay with me.
To be fair, when I speak of introversion I'm referring to its use in psychology. In everyday vernacular, it often describes shyness and reclusiveness.
Just so we're on the same page, when I say I'm an introvert, here's what I mean--
Extraversion and Introversion as terms used by C. G. Jung explain different attitudes people use to direct their energy. Where do you put your attention and get your energy? Do you like to spend time in the outer world of people and things (Extraversion), or in your inner world of ideas and images (Introversion)?
Contrast this definition with my experience in evangelicalism. As Adam McHugh states "The evangelical culture ties together faithfulness with extroversion. " This has definitely been my experience. The impulse I sometimes feel to retreat or be alone or spend time with just one or two people is often met with suspicion, even judgement.
Good Christians are constantly around people. Larger and larger community. More and bigger activity. Talking, engaging, initiating.
But if evangelicalism is correct, any person I don't talk to or conversation I don't engage or party I don't attend may condemn someone to Hell because I didn't share the gospel. That's a lot of guilt for someone who is concerned with how they're viewed by other people and by God.
But is that correct? Are godliness and sociability inseparable? Is extroversion really preferable? Is introversion less valuable in the kingdom of God?
What do you think? Any introverts want to share their experiences?
Seems a good place to stop for today. More later. Stay tuned.
Kelli is a writer, speaker and consultant equipping leaders for a deepening intimacy with Christ, greater impact in ministry and more effective intentionality in all of life.
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