It’s so easy nowadays to connect to people. Each new technological advancement seems to increase the ease with which we interact with others, and a multitude of social media platforms serve as constant reminders of those in our lives. Although there are many negatives associated with the subsequent reliance on virtual interactions, these developments can truly help to foster community. It seems that in this move towards an increasingly social world, Jesus’ message of finding God in others becomes more and more relevant.
College in particular provides the perfect breeding ground for frequent interactions with others. Whereas many of my high school experiences were centered around my ability to forge my own path via club involvement, sports, or academics, in college, it seems like other people’s paths are more linked to my own. The on-campus environment of college forces me to be surrounded by people all the time. This constant fellowship allows me to constantly see the image of God, for Jesus teaches us that all people are made in His likeness. It’s wonderful, therefore, when I find people with whom I can relate on a deeper level. I am able to find God by exploring avenues of my faith I hadn’t previously considered, questioning beliefs I had previously just accepted, and building upon traditions I had only previously half understood. Naturally of course, I will also interact with people I cannot seem to get along with and encounter beliefs that morally conflict with my worldview. In this struggle, however, I am also brought closer to God because I must rely on His strength and guidance in tough conversations and encounters. Thus any setting in which I frequently encounter people, like college, has the opportunity to help me see God. I can therefore make a further jump and claim that I should actively seek out these types of settings to foster the resulting spiritual growth. This assumption certainly holds for extroverts, but what’s the case for the introvert like me?
Our increasingly social society and more specifically, the overall college atmosphere, is catered towards extroverts. To those who find social settings exhausting after some time, the constant pressure to interact with others can be overwhelming. Society subtly conveys the belief that extroversion is the goal one must strive for. It’s comforting for introverts like myself to be reminded of the Scripture passages in which Jesus relies on alone time, like when He goes up a mountain to pray by himself. His example reminds me of the importance of being alone, of having time to reflect, and of entering into deep individual conversation with God.
In Scripture, Jesus often retreats by himself to converse with God. One of the most prominent examples is when He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, telling his disciples that He needs time alone with His father. There we see Jesus engaged in one of the most intense prayerful states He enters into. Beyond just allowing us to enter into deep prayer with God, alone time allows us to find God within ourselves. We constantly hear that we are made in the image and likeness of God, but it’s often easy to miss the awe-inspiring message: I am made in the image and likeness of God; God is within me. We therefore need time for self-discovery. It’s not wrong to be an introvert and deeply desire this silent space, just as it’s not wrong to be an extrovert and thrive in the company of others. God calls to us in the silence of our being. Thus, introverts have a unique gift in the deep desire for this time. It’s very true that we can and should seek out the presence of God in others. It’s equally important to find our own sense of God within ourselves, summed up perfectly in 2 Corinthians 13:5 with a simple question: “Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?”
Anne Marie Crinnion ’20 is a freshman living in Thayer Hall.