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The Introverted Child (how to honor the quiet)

The Introverted Child (how to honor the quiet)

Are you raising an introvert? The world needs your child- and maybe your mama heart needs some encouragement on parenting a young one such as this.

His name means pleasant little fire.

He is my eldest, and God whispered "tender-hearted leader" over him when he was just a baby.

He's the one the pastor prayed for on national television. I'd just finished sharing with the audience that doctors had told me I probably wouldn't have kids (due to my history with anorexia). After the show, this pastor took me aside and asked if he could pray, and he prayed I would conceive a son within the year.

And I did. My tender-hearted, sensitive boy, who tackles his father and wrestles his brother and then breaks down because his feelings got hurt. He speaks in a soft, wise voice and has old-soul eyes, which see more than I want him to. With his long legs and face he carries the world on his shoulders and is very aware of right and wrong--and when someone says they'll do something, and they don't, it breaks him.

He cuddles his pet kitten; he sits in a chair and just thinks for half an hour, and nothing excites him more than a game--be it a board game, sports, the Wii. He's only five and he beats me at Settlers.

And school is a challenge.

For me.

Because my son is so content to play by himself.

I see all the boys who are so talkative and loud and there my tender-hearted one sits, quiet; utterly happy, in solitude. The teacher urges him to join the others and he willingly does, and the boys accept him for which I'm grateful, but whether or not he plays with them or beside them, it doesn't matter to him. He always tells me he's had a good day, and he throws his little-boy arms around me and hugs me as though the world is ending.

I look at him in that big classroom with its ABCs and 123s and he's studious and thoughtful, and I see the future him, and I'm so proud: of the man he will be: the caring father, the loving husband, the introspective world-changer. I love what I see and yet in that moment, all I want is for him to be different just so he'll be popular.

I know. It's terrible.

Because in that moment, I impose my fears, and my low self-esteem, on my child. And for that moment, I rob him. Of the contentment he has been gifted with.

I see the kids who speak their minds and the ones who are rough and tumble and I envy them on my son's behalf because they are not alone: they draw people to them, whether good or bad, and for some reason I'm afraid for him to be alone.

But why? He isn't afraid. And what is so wrong with being alone?

The world needs those who are quiet enough to know who they are, who can stand firmly in that conviction. The ones who aren't afraid of silence, who aren't afraid to listen versus talk. The world needs men who, like my son, remain still enough to plant roots and plant them deep in the waters of mercy, and grace, and understanding, who aren't so busy catering to the voices around  them that they neglect the one within. Who don't sell themselves short for companionship.

But oh, I do pray for a good friend for him. For one who understands my soulful child, for one who honors the leader within him and who admires his tender heart. Children can be so cruel and I pray for a kind friend.

Yet I don't want to fear him going through pain and loneliness either. Right now he doesn't feel lonely. One day he might. And it's in this loneliness that the Savior meets us. It's in those silent places, the painful places, that Jesus steps in and becomes the friend we long for.

Am I willing, as a mother, to allow him to reach that place on his own? Or will I step in and arrange play date after play date with kids from the class trying to impose what I think he needs?

I'm trying to not do anything too quickly. To give God space in which to answer my prayers. To give him my trust, that the One who whispered purpose and identity and love over my son within my womb has it all figured out.

Even as I let go.


Emily Wierenga

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