Anyone familiar with tests like the Birkman or Myers-Briggs? If you aren’t, basically they ask a series of questions about you and then identify your personality traits by using letters to categorize you. I’m a ESFJ – show me some love. This means, I am technically an Extrovert (not Introvert), who is Sensing (instead of iNtution), a Feeler (not a Thinker), and a Judging (not Perceiving). I have loved tests most of my life, I’ve been blessed enough to just be a good test-taker. As a teacher, I have seen the kind of anxiety they can cause for others – but seriously, tests are totally my jam. I’m a weirdo. These personality inventories are my favorite! I love to see how I am, how others are, how we intermingle together and how we should get along. To me, it is a tangible example of how God made each of us individually and uniquely for a specific purpose. Read, Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
I retook both of the free online versions of these tests recently because I began to question if I was still an Extrovert. You can check out the Birkman here and Meyers-Briggs here. You’ll be happy to know that according to both – I am. I was a little surprised and I’m very much closer to the Introvert line than I ever have been in the past. I think I sway the line not because I’ve “grown up” or “matured in to my real self”, but because a big. awful thing (a couple, actually) happened in my life and I created coping mechanisms to deal with that. It’s no secret that coping mechanisms are often not healthy – in my case, it could be worse.
After our son died in 2014, I spent most of my maternity leave in fog of darkness. I had two little girls and a husband to care for, but I wasn’t really fully present. I just didn’t know how to be anymore. Though the therapist I saw regularly was fantastic and guiding me through this fog, she couldn’t be there all the time and I found my own ways. Thankfully, I didn’t turn to alcohol or other substances (but I totally see how someone might), instead my drug became Netflix. I’m totally serious. I wrote about it in the moment in a previous blog, TV=Drug, and I’m OK With That.
My once extrovert personality had pressed the pause button for a while. Probably to give my brain, my body, and my soul time to heal from tragedy. Binge watching TV was a welcome escape from the thoughts and emotions that come after child loss. I needed down time from being “on” during the hours I was responsible for my children and believe me when my husband came home from work – we were both exhausted. Later Netflix turned into Facebook or whatever else I could do to escape from the crazy emotions. So, here I am, someone who fed off being the center of attention, the social butterfly, the more-the-merrier kind of gal that organized all the social events for friends, now removed from the group and sucked into whatever I could occupy my brain with on my smartphone. (This is a problem for a lot of people, and a whole other blog post…for now, let’s just talk about my thing.) I feel awful about it, but I can’t seem to turn it off.
God didn’t make me to be an introvert, but he is allowing me to spend a little time here to learn more about how he did make me. It’s been about 3 years since we lost our son, and still I find when tragedy rears its head I revert to this introverted behavior of escaping reality, but now I recognize it. Recently, I was let go from a school that I’ve been teaching at almost 9 years. There in an awful legal mess and I knew this was a possibility, but it still stinks. The next day, boom – there I am, in my smartphone. Researching, reading, Facebooking, Instagramming, even reading my First5 devotion from Proverbs31 Ministries. (It’s a great app, by the way.) This time, I quickly realized – this is NOT how God made me, this is not how God wants me to be. Then I started to consciously change it. I tried (though, not always successfully) to out away the smartphone and focus on the people that were with me, my family and friends…I probably should mention that we were technically on vacation when all of this happened. Yay! (Insert sarcasm font.) It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t what I wanted – but I did it. I put the phone down and I looked around at the support and encouraging people that the Lord had placed in my life, and I began the shift back to the Extrovert that He created me to be.
What about you – what’s your personality? What did God create you to be?