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Putting on the New Self - By Jono Naritoku

Posted by Paul Wiemerslage | Jan 14, 2016

I am extremely envious of extroverted people. In particular, I envy their ability to just talk. My most recent roommate, Matt, is definitely an extrovert.  When you first meet him, he talks to you like you were old friends. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there’s me. Conversationally I consider myself a slow starter, but once I’ve gotten to know you aspects of my personality can resemble those of an extrovert. I bring this topic up because I have tried many times to pull and extract extroverted-ness from the very depths of my being.  An act that any introvert will tell you ends with the individual feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. The reasons for me doing this are many, some selfish (popularity, attention, etc.) while others are honest attempts to produce better results for a given situation. However, in trying to force a new self, I felt I started to lose what made me Jono.

In teaching kids about science, Creation, and environmental concepts, I make it my responsibility to help them enjoy and gain insight to many new things. While participating in the winter internship, I had the privilege of meeting many kids who were all diverse in their personalities and attitudes. My big goal was to sow a seed that welcomed learning and to see the fun that can emerge. It is always a good feeling to see our work translate into smiles and nods of appreciation and understanding. The internship was a reminder that change occurs through small steps, rarely in large quantities.

My introverted-ness has always posed a difficulty for me engaging others. However, as I have grown, I have come to the realization that my personality harbors multiple Jonos crafted from previous experiences to handle changing situations. Ironically, this understanding came about through my interactions with the very people (students and chaperones) that I was supposed to be teaching. The apostle Paul talks about how the grace of God has enabled believers to walk with the Lord as you put on the “new self” (Eph 4:24). Through my own growth, I learned that the discomfort, which I felt in response to attempts to be extroverted and engaging with others, was not necessarily an unnatural forced response but rather a necessary expression of my own nature and who I am. While energetically taxing this extroverted expression improved my interactions with people, increased my ability to form bonds, and made me a more effective teacher. In the end, what I understood as my own forced or false “self” was in reality new avenues of growth in my character and personality, God’s patient grace emanating from my students and illuminating my very own “new self.”