Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Introvert or Extrovert?

Where do you sit at church? Back, middle, or front? Side, center, or balcony? I personally have always chosen the side, middle. We have parked in the same section, if not the same pew, of our church for about 17 years with only minor variation. People know where to find us. I am always flabbergasted when someone says, "Haven't seen you in awhile. Where have you been?" Same place.  I know exactly where I've been (out of view from much of the congregation). Every single Sunday, we're there. Not hiding, just out of view, around the side.  This choice of seating becomes convenient if we need to bail out with Reid. Our little nook offers security should any of a number of inappropriate behaviors flair up mid-sermon; we are not as disruptive to as many people.  It makes perfect sense now but, what I'm not divulging is that we sat there way before the kids were born--just a few rows up.  Go figure?  My theory on pew selection is that it loosely correlates with introversion and extroversion.  (I have no link or research with which to substantiate that.)

It's not that I wear the pants in the family.  I think the rest of my crew have just followed my lead all these years, in this one area. Not last night. Jim is out of town so the kids and I slept through the morning service which meant defaulting to the 5:45 evening service. That change of routine in itself is enough to shake up the seating, right? The lighting and sound are also different which make our usual side transept seem more remote than secluded.  

Reid was in rare and wonderful form for some unknown and unpredicted reason. He bounded out of the car, up the patio stairs, waving hello to everyone as if he were a former pastor back from sabbatical. Calling everyone by their full names, he zoomed his beeline for the sanctuary. "Hello, Paula Mazza!" "Hello, David Hall!" (the band director at Allie's old school).  His quirky habit of using full names is based partly on hearing me refer to people and partly on seeing them in print.  If he's ever seen your name listed on a recital program or church bulletin, it is emblazoned on his memory in that exact typeset configuration.  As a result, he feels quite close to the headliners, and goes straight to the top of any organization.  He associates with the conductor at a concert--not the ushers; the senior staff of the church--not volunteers; the manager of the restaurant--not busboys!

It gave me pause to watch him have a complete conversation with the sound engineer, our new best friend since he recorded the Kingsmen band's first CD last week.  His employment of these ordinarily basic skills is akin to pulling out the wedding china and good silver.  It was rare indeed, to see them in everyday use. He approached Chris with a glowing smile and friendly touch, "Hi Chris Hobson. Remember you recorded the Kingsmen?  That was so fun! Right up there (pointing)...on Monday.  This is going to be the best service ever!! (fists clenched in glee) Mike McClenahan is preaching on the Splash series.  I can't wait!!! (quivering)"  All that was delivered in elevated pitch and speed with some overflow of motor movement, as a team of professionals could point out. Whatever*!#.  It was relational, warm, genuine, and reciprocal in my book!  

On and on he went as Allie and I sat unobtrusively in the darkened center, middle.  Where he stopped was in the second to the front row, center! "I want to sit next to Pastor Josh," he announced."  "I am way out of my comfort zone," I thought to myself.  Good thing I can fake otherwise.  We moved up and sat within the cluster of pastors presiding.

Like a cake is 3 parts flour and 1 part sugar (with some butter and egg thrown in for good measure), our kids are a couple parts diagnosis and a couple parts temperament.  It can be very hard to separate one from the other.  Where does a stubborn strong will stop and non-compliance begin?  When does over-sensitive become tactile aversion?  How can one distinguish manipulation from inability?  If you can answer these questions, you should really take up the fine art of early childhood diagnosis.  If not, join the club.

All I know for sure is, despite his significant language, social, and behavioral challenges, my son is an extroverted, gregarious, young man who loves people and has a mind like a trap.  I am so proud of him.  And secretly, I have come to love the tension in that, the irony, the oxymoron, and the element of surprise.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  Colossians 4:5-7

I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face. Peace to you. The friends here send their greetings. Greet the friends there by name.  3 John 1:13-14

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."  Matthew 18:19-21

photo credits: www.wholefoodsmarket.com, www.aolcdn.com


  1. We are told by AB to move around. Sit in different places. So we do. Not sure if that makes us intra or extra? Maybe yesmen.

  2. The pew-sitting had me laughing. My husband has always been determined that we sit close to the front, whether it's a church we're just visiting or one we are members of. His parents, on the other hand are just as insistent that they sit in the back of the church. So when they used to come to visit, it was a battle of the wills b/n father and son. Now, enter child with autism. We've achieved a happy medium of the side middle as well!
    I LOVED Reid's conversation with the sound engineer, and I find him completely endearing. I also like to hope that my daughter will enjoy people as much as Reid seems to.

  3. Funny how small, insignificant decisions become firm habits... become fodder for others to challenge. It sounds like Reido was in show form that night. Those moments are always keepers in the memory banks.