Candles leave a glow on faces. Songs proclaim Jesus’s birth. Voices rise in the sanctuary and fill the spacious room with harmony. The scent of coffee, pine trees and vanilla create an atmosphere of coziness.
I look forward to Christmas Eve services every year. It’s the chatting in the aisles before and after the event that is enough to leave me weighing out whether or not I’d rather watch from home.
Introverts gain more energy by being alone than by being surrounded by people, and we are generally allergic to small talk. Some of us have an extrovert side to us but run out of steam fast. Regardless, being in a room full of people can feel overwhelming on a drained social battery.
First of all, being an introvert does not make you any less welcome at church or part of God’s family.
In fact—can I tell you this? The church needs you. It needs your intuition, your connection to others, your perspective, your ideas, your character, and your heart. You build part of the kingdom in a way only you can.
But this time of year in particular, which can feel overwhelming to begin with, adds extra pressure when it involves more social interaction than usual, including family and friends you don’t always get to see, as well as people you haven’t met yet, or new friends you’re hoping to invite to celebrate with you.
Here are some tips to help you prepare mentally and emotionally for the holidays while still respecting your social capacity:
Honor the gifts and personality God gave you.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 tells us that the Spirit gives each of us our own gifts, operated on God’s power, for everyone’s good. You don’t have to match what someone else is doing–in fact, you should serve in your own strengths! God designed you to be who you are for a reason. Remember that you are loved and valuable to Him.
I’ve found that it helps me feel more comfortable socially if I have a job to do, helping in some way to make the event run smoothly. It also helps me to arrive early and talk to the people who trickle in rather than showing up to a full room. Figure out what works well for you that doesn’t drain you too quickly.
Make space to recharge.
Jesus sets an example for us in this. In Mark 1:35, we see him taking special time alone with God to pray and likely to gather his thoughts and prepare for what was coming next.
As busy as the holidays are, you don’t have to have a jam-packed schedule. Leave room to take a break and get refreshed. Make sure to use some time to connect with God in prayer and through the Word. TV binges are fun, but I find they don’t tend to bring the relief and mind renewal needed to gear up for a spiritual battle.
Set yourself up for success.
Ride with a friend to the event. Talk or text with someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Plan to sit with people you know. Have a small goal in mind for how long you’d like to stay, how many people you’d like to talk to (even just one!), and what you’d like to talk about.
And listen to your body. I’m all for expanding your comfort zone but not for burning out, especially with so many things going on this time of year. It’s okay to retreat for a bit, step outside, head home, or even skip an event if it’s too much.
Want to invite people but don’t know how?
Share the event on social media.
Start the conversation by asking people what their plans are for Christmas.
Bake cookies or make a gift and include an invitation.
Ask for help with the event, encouraging others to use their gifts.
If you need to stay home instead, invite a small group of friends to come watch the service with you.
You can set yourself up for success this holiday season while honoring your capacity and your God-given identity.
What tips do you have for fellow introverts as they navigate the holiday season?