As a teenager, I was very shy. The only time I recall that I wasn’t all that timid was during my time in kindergarten and elementary school. During my childhood, I was far more extroverted. One example of how much of a social butterfly I had grown to be as a kid was when my mother took me to shopping malls that included an indoor playground. By the time I spent at least an hour or so running around the place I never failed to return to my mother, seated nearby in the mall’s cafeteria, to introduce her to the many new friends I had made. My trips to the mall as a youngster was no more than the tip of the iceberg of my time as an extrovert. I could go on and on about other instances of me going up to strangers, whether it was to pet their dogs as the self proclaimed dog lover I am to this day, or going as far as to comfortably sit on the laps of random ladies out in public. As far fetched as it may seem, It’s all true. I was unafraid of making my presence known to everybody around me back then.
By the time I transitioned into middle school as a teen I was the complete opposite of the young girl I had started out as. Rather than trying to make my presence known to those around me, my goal in middle school was to hide myself from wandering eyes. To this day, I believe my desire to “blend in” with the crowd was a result of the bullying I had endured in school at that time. The bullying I was subjected to by boys I didn’t all know by name led me to hide myself within the sanctuary of my bedroom, often turning down opportunities to attend parties or to spend time with friends.
High school was a time of redemption; I had made up for the time I spent at home when I could’ve been out and about with my peers. I was apart of a pretty good circle of friends, I was invited to and attended more parties, I got involved in my school’s art club, and the bullying I had endured in the past was absent from the time I was a freshmen to the day I graduated as a senior. To this day I consciously try to reach out more to all who I meet as a college student, opening the door to form more lifelong connections. I’ve already made a decision to attempt to get more involved on campus as well, especially as a commuter student who’s not exposed to all that goes on after I leave school for the day.
There’s obviously nothing the least bit wrong with wanting to go out with friends, attend parties, join clubs/organizations, and so on. But alone time, especially with God, should be considered essential whether we’re extroverted, introverted, or somewhere in between. Sometimes I slip into this slump about how much time I “wasted” during my teenaged years by being behind doors, blaming my bullies for lowering my self esteem and keeping me from having the courage to form more connections. But looking back on the time I spent being alone in middle school, I was able to find myself. I feel like we can subconsciously desire to seek the company of others, while not paying much mind to get to know ourselves and what we want out of life aside from what’s going in the lives of our peers.
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
God wants us to get to know Him as much as we want to get to know anybody else. It’s easy to get caught up in our social lives to the point where we think of God as a third wheel we haven’t gotten to know all that well rather than our very best of friends. People inevitably travel in and out of our lives for countless reasons, But God will be there for us until the end. He’s not a seasonal friend–he’s a lifelong soul mate that will welcome us back with open arms, despite however long we’ve been absent from His company. We should yearn to spend time with God as much as we do with our peers. I still struggle with feeling like i’m missing out if I don’t mingle with my friends as much as I usually do because I have to study more than I expected, or if an inconvenience comes up and demolishes my original plans to go out, or if I feel too burned out to carry on a conversation. But in spite of this, we must make an effort to silence our phones long enough to listen to what God wants us to hear and know. Setting aside a day or two or as little as half an hour for “God time,” each and every week works wonders. Who knows what God will reveal to us if we a dedicate so much as an hour or so of our busy lives to Him.
I pray that I don’t overlook the One who I need to give the most attention to daily. Even if I dedicate half an hour or no more than five minutes to you Lord, I want to spend every moment that’s available to me in Your restful presence. It’s easy to get tied up in my day-to-day schedule, simply going with the flow of whatever comes my way. But as I wander further from spending time with You, guide me back with Your calming, gentle voice. Allow me to take time out of my day to block out all of the external hustle and bustle around me to welcome You into my heart.
Rachel Ruckes is a 20-year-old full-time commuter student majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in Graphic Design at Oakland University in Rochester Hills, Michigan. She has had a passion for art and literature since childhood. In addition to being an LYBM voices contributor, she pens her own blog at rachelruckes.wordpress.com to keep her creative juices flowing and have an outlet to express her experiences and interests such as social justice, womanism, self-esteem/improvement, and much more through the eyes of the Christian young woman's perspective.