Living Connected in a Disgruntled and Disconnected World

When I read the long list of author acknowledgments and the many stories in Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship by Afton Rorvik (New Hope Publishers, 2021), my first response was “Wow, this author is definitely living connected! How does she do that as an introvert?”

Full disclosure, Afton and I are part of the same Redbud Writers Guild, and I’m enjoying getting to know her, but that wasn’t the only reason  I wanted to read her book. What caught my interest was the way she combines friendship with being an introvert, since I’ve also written about introverts in the church and have been doing some speaking on forging friendship in a lonely world,

Thank you, Afton, for sharing your gift of introversion and story-telling in Living Connected. This is a book for introverts and those who love them, and it’s so good that I kept wanting to stop and read sections to my more introverted husband! I’m delighted to host Afton on my blog today.

 

Afton, how do you define being an introvert and being an extrovert?

One of the definitions that helps me most includes the answer to this question: What energizes you? Introverts find energy from quiet; extroverts find energy from activity, especially people activity.

For example, my husband, an extrovert comes alive in a room full of people. And on a Saturday morning after a draining week, he picks up the phone to call a friend—or two or three.

As an introvert, I feel overwhelmed in a room full of people. And on a Saturday morning after a draining week, I want a few hours alone in the basement.

Obviously, no person fits completely into a box. People have tremendous nuance. And the terms introvert and extrovert include so much more than just what energizes a person. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment has helped lots of people learn more about introversion and extroversion for over 75 years. The assessment talks about ways people gain energy, but it also covers how they take in information, make decisions, and organize their worlds. So helpful!

I also highly recommend the books Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain and Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture by Adam McHugh.

 

Why is living connected important for both introverts and extroverts?

In John 15:12 Jesus says, “Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” How grateful I feel for God’s extravagant love toward me! And that compels me to live connected, even as an introvert. As I observe our disconnected, disgruntled world today, I wonder what would happen if we who have experienced the deep, unending love of God dedicated our lives to sharing that love by purposefully living connected.

 

I’m intrigued by the categories/chapters you chose for your book: honesty, empathy, loyalty, confidentiality, to name just a few that seem very much a part of building healthy relationships. But what about creativity? How is creativity part of living connected?

Introverts tend to ooze with creativity. They often like to paint, garden, quilt, write . . .  Those activities, usually done alone, can also open doors to connect with others pursuing the same activity.

Creativity also helps us all approach building relationships with outside-of-the-box ideas. Why not, for example, invite a friend to help you harvest your tomatoes? Or make pesto from fresh basil? Or write a novel together? Creativity has such power to help people connect.

 

Another quality that intrigued me in your book is approachability, which I would associate more with extroversion than introversion. What does approachability mean for an introvert?

Great question! And, truthfully, I struggle with the word approachability. I put it in the book because I wanted to wrestle with it.

In the chapter on approachability, I write about my mother-in-law who has a knack for going up to strangers and starting conversations. I admire her ability to do this. And yet, I understand clearly that she is an extrovert, and I am an introvert. I cannot and should not force myself to imitate my mother-in-law in a social setting. I can, however, adapt her technique to fit my introverted self.

I can smile or wave at people I meet. Neither action requires words, and in my western culture these actions communicate approachability—friendliness.

I can also ask a simple question, such as: What brought you here? (I keep a few questions in my head or on my phone for various situations.)

Sometime we introverts can give off a “go away” vibe just because we feel awkward in a situation. A smile, a wave, or a simple question give off more of an approachable vibe. We can’t make friends unless we appear friendly, but we can do that in a quiet, thoughtful sort of way.

 

Were there some other qualities that were close runners-up for your book but didn’t make it in, and why not?

My husband and I hatched the idea for this book together by discussing what we thought mattered in friendship. It proved a fascinating discussion because he is an extrovert, and I am an introvert. We chose words that end in y so that we (and readers) could remember them as we worked to build friendships. I do wonder if I should have included an entire chapter on communication since it is so foundational to relationships. Instead, I chose to write about communication throughout all the chapters.

 

I love the way each chapter includes some extras, like journaling questions and sidebars on Introvert Inclinations, Introvert Impediments, Challenge Your Introverted Yourself. If introversion is one of God’s good gifts, why is it important to challenge your introverted self?

Another great question! So much of my book focuses on understanding the positives of introversion and reminding introverted readers to embrace their personality as a gift from God. And yet, we all know, that every personality type has its weaknesses, a “shadow side” as Enneagram personality theory calls it. I want gently to call out some of these weaknesses for introverted readers who seek to live connected even as I call them out in myself.

I do continually seek to challenge myself to take small steps in my pursuit of living connected. By taking on such challenges, I know that I open myself up to others, and I open myself to God. That feels so much more God-honouring than just muttering to myself, “I am who I am and will always stay this way. People just have to deal with that.”

 

What do you hope for your readers?

I would love to hear stories of introverts and extroverts reading this book together and strengthening their relationship as a result of conversations about what they read. I would also love to hear from introverted readers who say, “You helped me own my quiet voice.” Finally, I hope that some people who don’t yet know Jesus will read this book and become curious about the love He offers and the love that compels even introverts to reach for people.

 

Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship (New Hope Publishing, 2021) officially launches on October 5, and is available now!

 

Writing/Reflection Prompt (from Living Connected): What friendship-building habits do you already pursue? How have they helped you live
connected?

 

Afton Rorvik savors words, flavoured coffee, time outside, and living connected. She happily embraces her introversion as a gift and celebrates her courage-giving faith in God. Afton and her husband, John, have two adult children and love to walk and hike in Colorado.

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2 thoughts on “Living Connected in a Disgruntled and Disconnected World

  1. I have a sister who is an introvert, and so is my oldest grandson. They both don’t like to go to church because it involves relating to people in ways in which they are not comfortable. How does one as a Christian handle that?

    1. I like the way Afton values introversion as a gift, yet gently encourages introverts to connect with others in ways that make sense to them. That approach might be helpful for your sister, grandson, and any other introverts. I think churches can also practice making room for introverts. As just one small example, in a small group instead of asking a question and jumping right into discussion, I’ve learned to pose a question, and ask the group to pause first. That allows introverts a chance to collect their thoughts before the discussion is taken over by the extroverts.

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