Dancing in Church? Ugh!

This past weekend I attended a church workshop about being “Set Free”.  The event was a transformative experience – I received insights on forgiveness and I stepped out of my comfort zone as I participated in many exercises interacting with people I did not know.  It was all good … until the end.

For the closing ceremony the workshop leader, an extrovert, turned up the music and said “I want you to dance with as many people as you can!!!”

Ugghhh!  I have always had this aversion to dancing.  I stayed in the corner watching others dance, when suddenly a woman grabbed me and had me do a swing dance with her.  Was it fun?  No!  I wanted to run.

After my little dance I quickly got my coat and exited.  On the drive home I didn’t feel good.  “I must not be free,” I thought, since I wasn’t enjoying the dancing as my other classmates appeared to.

After a day’s reflection I had a different take on what happened to me that day.  I am an introvert, and I think what I was feeling at the end had more to do with my basic temperament rather than not being “free”.  Here’s what I concluded:

1. Introverts draw their energy from inside.  Extroverts are energized by interactions with other people.  It’s not that introverts are social misfits (I love talking to people), it’s just that after a day of social interaction an introvert may need some alone time to recharge his or her batteries.  On this particular day I was doing “extroverted” types of things for 8 hours.  My batteries were drained.  I just wasn’t up for a mass dance with strangers.

2.  This is not to say introverts cannot benefit from doing extroverted activities, and vice versa.  One of the best experiences I have had was participating in Toastmasters, as I wrote about in a previous blog post. Giving speeches is a very extroverted activity, and adding that skill to my repertoire was a good thing.  Loosening up a bit to work on my dance moves probably would help too.  But it’s not going to change my basic personality type – I’m still an introvert!

3.  I say let people have the spiritual practice that feels right to them, whether it be introverted and extroverted. If people were enjoying dancing at the end of my workshop – good for them!  I wish the introverts in the group would have been given the option to not participate without feeling like outcasts.  We introverts need to be careful, too, in thinking our quiet, reflective style is the “right” way for everyone. Any church can benefit from a good mix of introverts and extroverts without each type imposing their style on the other.

I was telling a counselor at the church about my experience in the workshop.  “Can’t quiet people be free?” I asked, relaying my discomfort with how the day ended for me.  “Of course!” she said.  “I never was much for the dancing at the church, either”.

For more insight on introversion check out The Power of Introverts website.

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4 Responses to Dancing in Church? Ugh!

  1. Barb Markway says:

    Oh My! That sounds dreadful. I can’t imagine having to dance at the end of the day. I’m glad the counselor at church was supportive. I, too, have felt awkward at churches when you are expected to be demonstrative as an expression of your faith. Have you seen the blog/book about Introverts in the Church?

    • Tim Larison says:

      Hi Barb – Yes Adam McHugh has an excellent blog at http://www.introvertedchurch.com – I haven’t read his book. If people want to dance in church, that’s fine, but I wish they’d realize not everyone is wired the same way. Thanks for your comment – it’s reassuring that there are others out there who feel like I do. – Tim

  2. Heather Rogers says:

    This story is hilarious! I can totally relate to the sense of having an internal battery that needs recharging, especially after emotional and social activities. And I can relate to the knee-jerk thoughts of self-doubt: “Is something wrong with me because I need to sit out and just be quiet for a while?” I’m glad I found your well-written blog through Susan Cain’s blog. Even in my 40’s, I need reminders that there is nothing sub-par about being an introvert. But I do envy the extroverts’ ability to not question their extrovertedness!

    • Tim Larison says:

      Thanks for the comment Heather – it’s reassuring to know there are other introverts out there who feel like I do. I am very much looking forward to reading Susan Cain’s book when it comes out in January. – Tim

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