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Unlocking the Chatterbox

Unlocking the Chatterbox

There are vast differences between extrovert types and introverts (I know, Captain Obvious). For example if a lively conversation is occurring, you can observe the extrovert’s body language steadily leaning in, taking a pre-word breath, and appearing quite animated as said extrovert prepares to jump right in there. In contrast, you can watch the body language of an introvert pulling back (almost becoming one with their chair), appearing thoughtful, and even sometimes overwhelmed by the excitement. An extension of God’s love for an extrovert is to give space for the introvert to gather his or her thoughts in order to speak out what’s on his or her mind. And the loving thing for the introvert to do is to not judge the extrovert too harshly for speaking too quickly!

Enter in 2 young ladies I know well.

I’ve heard it said that if your family consists of 2 or more children, the first two are polar opposites. I can attest to that truth with my own 3 children, observance of friends’ children, and my beloved first-born’s girls. They are 4 years apart. They love one another deeply. And they are as different as day and night. Child “A” is quiet and reserved, she loves being indoors, would rather read and play school more than anything, and allows child “B” to take the spotlight. Child “B” is a ball of fire, athletic, is quite outdoorsy, has a sharp mind, and will talk the hind legs off a donkey (that’s my mother-in-law’s Irish saying!).

Needless to say, child “A” takes a back seat frequently and it’s not always easy to know what she feels, what she prefers, or what upsets her. She just doesn’t let her thoughts be known. So, when she recently started to open up and talk the night away, I couldn’t help but take notice.

It had been a family holiday with lots of chatter (mostly from the extroverts!) and food and love and laughs. But I noticed that child “A” was needing a little extra attention, as child “B” was performing her athletic prowess for the rest of us to “ooh” and “aaahh” over. She truly is amazing. As the evening unfolded, my wise daughter-in-love embraced child “A” and focused her attention on her, slowly bringing her out of her shell. Looking in her eyes, she asked questions that applied only to this quieter child, and little by little, child “A” perceived a safe, welcoming environment, and opened up…and opened up…and opened up!  This unobtrusive little person found her voice, gathered her thoughts, and expressed them in a clear, concise, descriptive manner. She became joyously animated, and we all let this unforeseen “chatterbox” take center-stage.

Why do I share this here? I think the obvious answer is an encouragement to recognize the unique ways your children are wired and to allow them the place and space for expression and to be sure the one who tends to stay in the background, gets placed in the foreground equally. We, as parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and childcare workers have great influence…a key, if you will…to unlock what might have inadvertently become locked up inside as that low-key child demands little attention. It’s simply easy to overlook that child’s needs.

The same principle is true in the Body of Christ. Drawing out that brother or sister who seems to be content hiding in the shadows can be an act of love. I don’t mean demanding anything of that person, but giving attention to their personhood by asking questions and waiting for them to form their thoughts and speak whatever is on their mind. We learn from one another, but we can’t learn anything if the same voices are speaking, suppressing those who have much to say, but no platform or confidence to say it.

The extrovert in me greatly desires to humble herself and give space to those around me who need to know they have a voice that won’t be drowned out by the louder, quick-witted, more spirited types. I have gleaned so much from the wisdom of those who are more observant and less vocal, and my life has been enriched by their presence.

For some of us, our internal chatterbox opened up long ago, spilling its contents at every opportunity. But we just might hold the key to unlock the untouched chatterbox in our beloved companions.

Lori Travers

Lori finds the Joy of the Lord to be her strength. Born and raised an Italian Jersey girl, she has finally settled in the south as Reynolda Presbyterian church became her new home. Ministry to women, reading, writing, cooking, and anything having to do with animals are her sweet spots. Having a background in cardiac testing, she chose to stay home and raise three incredible children who are now married, and currently has 2 precious granddaughters and one faithful husband of 34 years.

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