When Introvert and Extrovert Collide
The life of an introvert is whelming—not over, not under—just whelming. And that’s how I like it. When well-planned days lead to drama-free nights, I thrive.
I first met Charlotte at a writer’s retreat. Her boisterous, Southern charm tripped my extrovert alarm the instant the hey y’all shrilled through her bright pink lipstick. I heeded the internal warning by veering into a sea of reserved writers, more common to the habitat.
I’m not antisocial. But a dark season of life brought me to the conference weary and wary. There’s nothing worse than wrestling with Mom guilt over the failures of an adult child, except having to share the tragedy with an inquisitive socialite. So, the plan for the week involved attending classes, enjoying alone time with God, and dodging people like Charlotte.
The strategy worked until the final meeting day. I lingered at the breakfast table reflecting on God’s goodness; the deepest valleys so often provide the sweetest refuge in Him. Thankfulness crept in and disarmed my social defenses. When I emerged from the reverie there she was. Before I could utter a startled word, Charlotte introduced herself, claimed a seat beside mine, and plunged into an animated narrative about her ministry and writing.
I listened with polite interest, wondering how such a petite frame could store such massive energy. But when she launched into her book description, the first sentence captured my attention and held it hostage. The testimony of God’s redemptive work in the life of Charlotte’s son flooded my parched soul. I left the sacred meeting changed by the story and charged by the passion of the one who shared it.
Later that day, Charlotte offered to drive me to the airport in her red convertible. My riskometer cautioned me to decline. If it were possible for a human to have an automobile twin—that fiery red hot-rod and Charlotte would be a shoo-in. Plus, where would I store my luggage? The sleek, two-seater had little room to stow a toothbrush—much less my oversized suitcase.
I voiced the concern, hoping my monstrous bag would be the deal breaker. But she answered with gales of laughter and heaved the luggage into her tiny trunk. The suitcase wedged into the compartment like an elephant in skinny-jeans. It stood straight and flat against the lid, eliminating any hope for closure.
Internal warning sirens blared and demanded that I approach our driver with several questions. “What will keep the bag from flying out while we drive? How will you be able to see through the back window? And what about the rain clouds?” I asked.
While she revved the engine and adjusted her sunglasses, Charlotte provided jovial answers. “I drive with the trunk open all the time, nothing’s ever fallen out. My side-mirrors work just fine. And a little rain never hurt nobody,” she said.
With all questions and answers exchanged, there was only one polite thing any shell-shocked recluse could do. I folded myself into the bucket seat of the sportster and made a silent vow. Never again would I ridicule the poor Lifetime movie characters whose irrational decisions always lead to their demise.
We pulled onto the winding country road with car top down and trunk lid open. My hair whipped in the wind and wrapped around my face for over an hour. And it rained. But while Charlotte talked, almost as fast as she drove, God’s voice broke through. I never realized He could speak with a Southern accent; Charlotte’s every word provided an answer to prayer, and as a bonus— her infectious joy lifted my heavy heart.
I looked like a vagrant by the time we arrived at the airport—but didn’t care. Even as I sloshed my luggage onto the scale I couldn’t contain my smile. I suspect that’s why the attendant flagged my boarding pass for extra security measures. I laughed through it all.
Charlotte is now one of my favorite people in the world. She’s a precious woman, full of life and God’s Spirit. Just the thought of her makes me happy. It scares me to think how much I would have missed had I followed my own well-laid plan instead of the one gifted to me by God. The common ground that bridged the gap between elusive introvert and excitable extrovert became my road to hope.