Written By Janel Breitenstein, USA
Is anyone else out there guilty of subtly rigging your own personality assessment?
You know what I’m talking about. It’s the exercise where you carefully pencil in circles that should illuminate more of how you’re designed as an individual.
I know, I know. It sounds kind of dumb when I say it out loud. In fact, if you had asked me, I would have totally denied it. I would have said, “I’m trying to make this thing express me accurately.”
It probably sounds immature (because it is) to mute certain aspects of my personality. But I didn’t want to succumb to stereotypes. I wanted to be more balanced. I didn’t want to, well, turn out like that person who drove me batty once upon a time, or that person I didn’t respect.
To be more specific, I was embarrassed (and still am) by being described as an extrovert; lacking attention to detail; and feeling rather than thinking. I mean, who wants to be known as an irrational, in-your-face, over-enthusiastic fountain of emotion who can’t match her own socks?
Perhaps my embarrassment was aided by others’ response to my unvarnished expression of personality in earlier years. Whenever I spoke, out flew the product of a mouth in fast-forward and a brain in rewind.
But though my extroversion got me putting on elaborate mild-mannered disguises, God, of course, had His reasons. I distinctly remember an epiphany I had while doing my third or fourth personality test some years ago before we hauled our family to Africa for missions.
Shortly after I had carefully engineered every little gray circle with my pencil, only to discover that I was still “incredibly enthusiastic”, someone pointed out that nearly the whole African continent thrived on talking and talking—and that flexibility was the key to survival. A straightforward, uninhibited show of compassion would also go a long way.
Wait. Did someone say it would be helpful to be friendly, conversational, empathetic, and willing to be flexible on details? Well, have I got a show for you!
Turns out that God’s knowledgeable design of me might not have been so inconvenient or random after all. Perhaps in my longing to be someone different, I was actually articulating a profound lack of faith.
A couple of mornings ago, I was recalling Acts 13:22, which mentions a particular king, musician, poet, dreamer, and creative planner. His feelings got him into trouble, like mine do. But still, God says this man “served the purpose of God in his own generation” and calls him a man after his own heart. (I wonder if David ever had trouble matching his socks.)
The reality is, I’m made in the image of God—whether I choose to embrace His deliberate, carefully-considered crafting or not. Granted, He’s not to blame for those times I overwhelm others with my friendliness, fail to plan well for my family, or emote all over the place without self-control.
My weaknesses aren’t an excuse to mute the way God has made me, but rather to let His Holy Spirit make me fully . . . me (Ephesians 2:10). It’s much like my hope that as God transforms Africa, it won’t become more Westernized, but more African, and take on the highest, unadulterated form of this stunning culture in expressing His face and image. God flourishes in the fullness of our distinction not so that we can make more of ourselves, but more of Him.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
This article was originally published on the writer’s blog here. This version has been edited by YMI.