I think I’ve struck on a balance that seems to work for my extroverted first child and me: for every day that we go out to run errands, visit the library or play in the park, we spend the next at home.
Fortunately, we are a family of homebodies, and Lucy is just as happy to spend the day in pajamas as I am.
I’m becoming more aware these days that we are entering a new chapter. Our days have been divided up by nap times for the past five years; in about a year or two, the practice of singing with gusto to prevent a baby from catnapping in the car will be a thing of the past. And in the meantime, our daughters are filling out the tiny corners and open spaces of this house with their own distinct characters.
As we spend time together at home these days, it feels very much like we are all getting to know each other. Lucy and Little Jo have just this week embarked on what I hope is a lifelong journey of being partners in crime — or, in this case, partners in impishly harmonizing odd high-pitched noises as they ask for a special snack.
“What interesting people I live with!” Y said once back in April, as we all sat around the dinner table. “Any place I go (waving his nearly-empty water glass for emphasis), I am usually the weirdest person. But here…”
One week ago, Lucy and I took turns telling a story at dinner time. In the end the tale turned out to be about Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty turning Aurora, Philip and the three good fairies into pumpkins in a kingdom-size pumpkin patch.
“Tell me another one,” she asked, and I began spinning a simple plot that made her eyes widen.
Once upon a time there was a boy who lived on a small island in the middle of the sea.
He didn’t know how he had come to be there, but every day he woke up and caught a fish for breakfast, and then worked on a small cluster of buildings he was constructing on the island. He picked berries and vegetables for lunch, worked on his buildings some more, and then caught two fish for dinner.
One day, the strangest thing rose from the ocean: a great giant of a sea turtle came ashore. And laying his faded eyes on the boy, he said…
I beamed at Y with expectation, passing to him this satisfying baton of this mysterious boy’s origins and his equally mysterious buildings and the turtle that could have a whole legend built on his back.
Y looked up from his plate. “And he said, ‘Are you eating pizza?'”
Here in this house, I live with my own community of artists. They are my built-in safeguard against keeping too much to myself, and simply by their existence, they are tilling the ground from which I create. Their interruptions are my training arena, and when I see clearly, I would not trade them for all the blueberries that could be eaten in peace on all the kitchen floors that ever were.
For other believing introverts who write, His provision of training ground is different: deep moments of solitude to reflect, the bittersweet journey of a dream not yet come to fruition, the seemingly mundane work of a 9 to 5 job with its own crises and victories — different, indeed, but an indispensable part of carrying out this work of glorifying God and enjoying Him. Even the writer’s part of it.
Imagine how different the corpus of C.S. Lewis would be, for example, if he had lived in a comfortable vacuum. If he had not lost his mother at an early age, if he had not been tasked with caring for an emotionally grueling woman, if he had not lost his beloved wife to cancer…? Only God knows, and He does not tell, but even I can tell you that The Magician’s Nephew, The Screwtape Letters, and A Grief Observed would have lost something vital, if they chanced to be written at all. The caliber of the work reflects the character of its creator, and that is something hard-won in shrivelingly unseen moments.
I said earlier that when I see clearly, I would not trade my training ground. I have ample moments when I don’t, and long to dive headlong into a hobbit-hole no matter how strong the protests of its robust residents, just for five minutes, to finish a thought.
I think back to the roads I have traveled that I would not have mapped out for myself,
up to this house where no consistently quiet corner can be found,
and tonight —
those gifts are not lost on me.
This post is part of a 31 day series about Loving God as an Introvert.