My friend Holley Gerth, is a deeply wise and trusted guide into what it means to thrive as an introvert. Holley is not only a true sage, but she also lives the truth, health, and wholeness of which she writes. Her words will be a relief, an epiphany, a manifesto for any introvert. Not an introvert? Holley will give you new insight into the quiet ones you hold most dear. It’s a grace to welcome Holley to the farm’s front porch today…
Almost a year ago I walked along the paths of Rancho Capistrano in southern California. I carried my laptop bag and planned to find a quiet place to work. As I looked at the palm trees and watched turtles paddling through the ponds, my thoughts kept circling back to an offhand comment someone had made to me.
I’d come for an author retreat, and around the dinner table the night before, we’d all shared what we brought with us in our inner suitcase.
The most common answer? Exhaustion. It was an understandable one. I know it. I’ve lived it. I wanted to give it as my answer so I felt like I fit in more. But it just wasn’t true for me.
After years of ignoring who God created me to be, of dealing with depression, anxiety, and insecurity, I felt strong and free. Sure, I still pick up exhaustion and all those other things from time to time. I imagine I always will. But I no longer carry them with me.
Instead, I said that I’d gone through burnout, gotten lost from myself, and knew what it felt like to want to trade in your introvert skin. But I’d also eventually and clumsily, with a lot of help, discovered a different way to live.
After the conversation ended, someone walked up to me and said, “What I see in you is sustainable peace.” And that was the comment I couldn’t stop thinking about on my walk.
I believe sustainable peace comes from having clarity about who we are and our unique purpose.
A laser is tiny but focused, and that’s powerful. Wayne Cordeiro, author of Leading on Empty, says 85 percent of what we do, anyone can do.
For example, watching television, checking social media, and attending meetings. Someone could do another 10 percent if we trained them. That last 5 percent is what only we can do. After facing burnout, making new choices about that 5 percent became a life-changing revelation for Wayne: “I had to rethink what was most important to me—what God had asked me to do—and how I would restructure my life. I had to think what my last 5 percent would include. What were the things that only I could do. . . ?”
On that afternoon at Ranch Capistrano, what only I could do at that very moment honestly felt a bit wasteful. Only I could watch a water bird fishing for dinner. Only I could stand still on the center of a bridge, ignoring the hum of hurried traffic in the distance. Only I could choose to stay in a space of sacred quiet.
I thought of one of my favorite scenes in all of God’s story with us, one that involves another moment of quiet, one that speaks to me as an introvert. The prophet Elijah is struggling with insecurity and discouragement. He feels exhausted and alone.
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:11-12 NLT
I thought of how I’d looked for God in the wind — in activity, busyness, hustling to prove my worth.
It almost tore my life apart. How I’d done the same through what felt like an inner earthquake, splitting my true self into pieces so I could get approval, never really feeling steady or sure. I tried fire, the flash of performance, efforts to impress.
Then came the gentle whisper.
I started finding sustainable peace, my real purpose, as I listened to the voice that tells me I am loved and enough as is, not as I think I ought to be. On that afternoon walk, I felt grateful for how far that voice had brought me.
Then I had another thought about this story, a new one, that involved not just me but all of us.
What if we, as introverts, are created to be living echoes of the gentle whisper of God? What if that’s why the world needs us to be who we are? What if that’s our powerful purpose?
Bronnie Ware lives in Australia, works as a nurse, and calls herself “a gentle rebel.” In a photo on her site, she stands in front of a tree with wrinkles through its bark, one that’s seen storms and sun. She leans against it as if she’s holding it up and bearing witness to its story. This seems fitting, because Bronnie cares for people at the end of their lives.
She’s done this for years and listened to the wisdom, clarity, and confessions that come with brevity. The most common regret expressed?
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
Living as who we’re created to be won’t always be easy. We’ll face fear and pressure, doubt and the temptation to compare, moments when our hands shake or our hearts pound. But I truly believe we’re needed more than ever before.
From now on, let’s say . . .
I’m an introvert, and
I will imperfectly
offer my strengths of
and intentional energy
as I live with purpose
and grow for a lifetime.
Holley Gerth is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author, life coach, and counselor who’s passionate about empowering people, especially her fellow introverts, to understand who they are and become all God created them to be.
Holley’s new book, The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to Be You, is practical, researched, and profoundly helpful. An invitation to journey with her toward genuine growth and flourishing should not be missed. It’s also a wonderful book club pick. And Holley’s new mini-course, 7 Ways to Thrive as an Introvert, is free if you order your book today.
Did you know none of us are 100% introvert or extrovert? To find out how much introvert you have in you, take Holley’s one-minute “What Percent Introvert Are You?” quiz. Your results might surprise you.
Holley’s invitation to journey with her toward genuine growth and flourishing should not be missed in her new book, The Powerful Purpose of Introverts. Practical, researched, and profoundly helpful, these pages will be a relief, an epiphany, a manifesto for any introvert.
[ Our humble thanks to Baker for their partnership in today’s devotion ]