Faith was born inside of my bedroom closet.
I was four years old, and I had just learned the trick of a lifetime–the grown-up task of tying my own glitter-pink shoe laces together.
“Wrap the bunny around the tree trunk and push him through the hole,” my mother taught me. I repeated her instructions carefully, holding the intricate laces in my hands like the reigns of a horse, determined yet timid.
This was my rite of passage into Kindergarten. I had learned to tie my own shoes, so I was independent enough to cross the threshold into a brave Crayola-colored world. There was just one problem.
Even though my mom had equipped me with the knowledge I needed to get through the day without worrying about untied shoes, she wouldn’t be there to hold my hand.
So there, with my tiny fingers still wrapped carefully around my shoelaces, with as much tenacity as the intention of tying a perfect bow, I prayed my very first prayer.
Jesus, please come into my heart, I said. I don’t want to be lonely on my first day of school. Hold my hands and help me.
Then I promptly stood, wiggled my toes in my bright pink tennis shoes and let the big yellow school bus cart me away. A bold Kindergartener. A brave, new Christian.
I could tie my own laces and I had Jesus in my heart, so whom shall I have feared, anyway?
Now, more than 20 years later, I frequently slip my feet into high-heeled pumps. Though I no longer worry about keeping my foot apparel tied, I still heed my mother’s advice: walking heel to toe, placing each foot carefully in front of the other.
I no longer vanish into the thicket of the big yellow school bus each morning, but I become absorbed in the traffic of my morning commute to work. Weaving the car in and out of lanes, like a bunny circling a tree trunk.
And each morning, I start my day with a closet-like faith. Falling into the crinkling pages of scripture. Asking the Lord to be my friend through times of loneliness and transitions in life that make me unsure.
My faith happens in the still. In the quiet.
I keep finding myself in church longing to retreat. Wanting to be restored to the faith where I hid in my closet. Just me, Jesus and the soles of my shoes.
A few months ago a woman asked me about my faith. About whether I had ever been “slain in the spirit,” or if I had ever spoken in tongues.
“No,” I said. “I guess that’s just not the way that the Lord chooses to move in my life.”
“Well, don’t worry,” she said to me, as if to verbally pat me on the head. “You’ll get there.” And then she sent me on my merry little “faithless” way. As though I hadn't attained her level of spiritual cleverness.
Lately, it seems as though I have more and more conversations like that. As though my friends–my lovely brothers and sisters–and I have somehow dropped into the folds of a very loud, proclamatory faith.
There is certainly nothing against being bold or outspoken at all. Further, there is nothing wrong with exclaiming to the world what a wonderful Savior we have.
But, I have to wonder whether or not my friends with brazen faiths, the extroverts who need you to know what they think about every controversial political topic, the ones who pray loudly in public to make sure others are listening, or the ones who say, “Like and share this article if you are not ashamed to be a Jesus-lover,” really have a stronger relationship with the Lord than those like me, quieter in my faith.
I have to wonder if saying “you’ll get there” to someone who has never spoken in tongues (unless you count very poorly-spoken French) is a defense-mechanism for a bigger problem. I have to wonder if sometimes, having an introverted faith–a faith that makes demands only for your own accountability and actions, a faith that focuses solely on inward change, instead of outward expression, is how Christ would truly want us to live.
After all, what good is very loud worshiping without the heart of the sincere Believer to support it?
For me, faith like a child is returning to that closet. Returning to the moment in life when I truly believed that the only thing I had to worry about is how to keep my shoes from untying and being lonely.
I retreat to the closet. I become a concave Christian, because, if we’re really honest with ourselves, worship sometimes feels a little bit contrived. As though, perhaps, if we’re not loud and proud with our faiths that we are not truly children of God.
But we are. Whether we “fall out” and speak in tongues, or if we merely speak to God in quiet whispers over the billowing steam of our morning coffee. We’re still Christians even if we let the battered and frayed pages of our Bibles speak for us.
Faith is for the introverts, too.
Brett Wilson is a Christ-loving, single, curly-haired, left-handed coffee-addict. She is a public relations writer in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Brett lives with her best friend and a Boston Terrier named Regis. You can read more from Brett at her site, www.prodigalsister.com, or on Twitter.