Heavenly Father gave me great gifts. He gave me the gifts of strength, tenacity, and passion. These gifts got me through a childhood of illness when the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. As tiny and sickly as I was, there’s probably no reason why I’m alive other than I wanted to be here. Maybe I just willed myself to stick around.
My strength of will has served me well throughout my life. I’m passionate about what I believe in my heart to be true. That strength or passion has sometimes been misinterpreted by others as a tough skin. Some would describe me as tough or stubborn. I even refer to myself as stubborn, but it is really just passion. I feel deeply about things, and when I do, I’m vocal about it.
The irony of this situation is that I’m also an introvert. I do not like to be the center of attention. I detest when I have to be vocal about anything. The introvert in me wants to sit in the corner of the room, lean against the back wall and keep my mouth shut. The introvert in me wants to sit in a meeting and let everyone else do the talking. The introvert in me wants to let everyone else battle it out while I sit as the quiet observer.
My life is a quagmire of uncomfortable situations because I feel passionately about a lot of things. That means I often feel like the bad guy. I was always the bad guy with my kids. My passion to raise good kids made me the disciplinarian. My passion for fairness often pitted me against the school district. My passion for agency often rattled relationships with extended family members. My passion for my job at times irritated those who didn’t understand the intricacies of the justice system.
When the things I’m passionate about meet the introvert in me, my heart leaps in my throat. Try as I might—and I try very hard—passion always wins.
While this gift of passion, strength, tenacity, or whatever you want to call it has served me well in life, it is uncomfortable. It is particularly uncomfortable as it relates to church callings. It is simply not possible for me to sit silently in a ward council meeting. If I’ve got something to say, it’s out there. It’s on the table. The bishopric can agree or not agree, but my opinion is on the table. As a writer, I think better with the written word, so email is incredibly important to me when it comes to church callings. I’m sure there have been bishops who have dreaded the countless emails received from me. I’m passionate about “return and report,” and I’m passionate about “telling it like it is.”
What I wish people knew about me is that every time I hit “send” on an e-mail, and every time I lay my cards on the table in a meeting, it is uncomfortable for this introvert. It’s not easy being me. I’m not stubborn by choice any more than I’m vocal by choice. I hate pointing out the obvious. I detest being the bad guy. I feel physically ill when I have to speak up.
I feel sorry for all the bishops I’ve served under. I know I’m the bane of their existence. I’m the squeaky wheel demanding the grease. I’m the phone call they want to avoid and the email they don’t want to read. I’m even more sorry for their wives and children, as I know how much family time I squelch by pointing out the obvious and speaking my mind. If I had a choice in the matter, the ward would run on status quo, but the Spirit whispers to use my gift of passion.
I’ve tried to figure out why Heavenly Father would give the gift of passion to an introvert. Was it to test me? Was it to see how I would deal with the challenge? It finally occurred to me that if He gave the gift of passion to an extrovert, an egomaniac would emerge. No one works well with an egomaniac. Nothing would get done. An introvert knows when it is important to speak up, even if she/he doesn’t want to do it.
Doing the Lord’s work is not easy. We each have to recognize our talents and gifts. Then we must set out to use those talents and gifts to the best of our ability, regardless of our personality. This is our challenge. This is the test we are all given. While we may sometimes wish we could trade in our gifts for something more to our liking, Heavenly Father has eternal perspective. He knows what we need in order to accomplish His work. He also knows what we need in order to grow and to return to His presence.
To all those introverts with the gift of passion who may be reading this, keep the faith. There is a reason for everything.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.