Discovering me.

10 Feb

A while ago, I was prompted by my friend Brittany to take a personality test. I was diagnosed as a INTJ (Introspective, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging). One description that I found of my personality profile said this:

“Other people may have a difficult time understanding an INTJ. They may see them as aloof and reserved. Indeed, the INTJ is not overly demonstrative of their affections, and is likely to not give as much praise or positive support as others may need or desire. That doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t truly have affection or regard for others, they simply do not typically feel the need to express it. Others may falsely perceive the INTJ as being rigid and set in their ways. Nothing could be further from the truth, because the INTJ is committed to always finding the objective best strategy to implement their ideas. The INTJ is usually quite open to hearing an alternative way of doing something.

“INTJs need to remember to express themselves sufficiently, so as to avoid difficulties with people misunderstandings. In the absence of properly developing their communication abilities, they may become abrupt and short with people, and isolationists.”

This description has stuck in my mind. As time goes by, I am seeing the truth of this about myself. I don’t express my emotions very much. I did when Travis and I were dating (or at least I feel like I did). But falling/being in love can’t really be compared to how one acts in normal, everyday life. Now that I’m married going on 4 years, I am back to my normal keep-my-emotions-locked-up ways.

Don’t get me wrong – I am emotional and definitely let Travis know when I’m upset about something. What I keep inside, however, are my positive emotions. I am quick to point out how Travis hurt me but am I just as quick to point how he makes me happy or feel blessed? Sadly, no. And with my friends, I often walk away thinking to myself, “Wow, I really enjoyed that time with her” but I rarely say it to her face. My most common form of encouragement is a comment about someone’s cute jacket or earrings, not their inspiring testimony or uplifting insight.

I have been convicted that not only do I need to move beyond trivial, vain compliments, I also need to encourage my fellow Christians. A few weeks ago, I went to a bridal shower. Even though there were a lot of women there I didn’t know well, one woman told me that she admired my boldness in introducing myself to her and another woman commended me for being open about my marriage struggles (and exhorting the Bride-to-be to cling to Christ). I left the shower on clouds. I felt so loved and blessed by those women sharing those things because they proved that God has been working in me. I feel inspired and compelled to do the same for other women.

The only problem is that for me, saying things like that feels uncomfortably vulnerable. It’s putting my heart out there, in plain sight, and inviting heartache or misunderstanding. It’s the same reason why I keep my spiritual struggles to myself, often not even telling my husband about them. Telling another person requires vulnerability.

But alas, I feel God is calling me to move beyond my comfort zone and to encourage others. For a long time, I wasn’t even capable of recognizing things to commend in others because I was so self-conscious and jealous of other women that I couldn’t see past what they had that I didn’t. As God has led me to trust the life He has given me, however, I have been able to let go of the standards and expectations I had constructed and now I find myself more able to see, appreciate, and value what other women have to offer. Their gifts don’t diminish mine – I can appreciate them while appreciating the gifts God has given to me.

To put this into practice, today I brought cookies to my friend Cathy along with a card sharing my heart about how much our friendship means to me. And I closed my note with the words “I love you.” Which is true but as soon as I wrote those, I felt exposed. Vulnerable. Was that too weird? Will she be freaked out? Do friends even say that to each other? But I felt God urging me to put myself out there. Be radically honest and open. Encourage others even when it’s uncomfortable and scary. So I gave it to her. (But I didn’t ask her to read it in my presence. Baby steps, people.)

Over the past several years, I have racked my brain and over-analyzed my personality, wondering which characteristics were good and which needed to be redeemed? My realization that I can trust God to bring into light the things that need redeeming is being proved true. My avoidance of people out of fear of awkwardness and lack of encouragement to others out of my fear of vulnerability are being exposed in God’s holy and searching light. And instead of feeling condemned and guilty, I feel called to live in a better, more God-glorifying way. I feel freedom. I feel love. It’s amazing how God works like that.

One Response to “Discovering me.”

  1. B. in the Know February 10, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    We are so similar – I am an INFJ – we are cousin personalities! So glad you took it and that it helps you better understand who God has created you to be!
    Much love,
    B

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